The Golden Knights have re-signed Malcolm Subban to a one-year $850,000 contract lining him up to once again fill the role as the back-up behind Marc-Andre Fleury.
Since claiming him on waivers a few days before the first game in franchise history, the Golden Knights have never wavered on their belief in Subban. He was immediately installed as the back-up and has kept the position through rough patches, injuries, and inactivity. The main reason for this is because of Dave Prior. Anyone who has ever spoken to Prior knows that he has confidence in Subban’s ability, and if he has it his way, Subban will be the next full-time goalie when Fleury’s time is up.
On the flip side, there are Golden Knights fans, who for the most part want to bury their head into a pillow every time they see Subban’s name on the lineup sheet. Most fans point to his disastrous 2018-19 season in which Subban as their reason for concern (or hatred). He went 8-10-2 with a .902 save percentage, allowed three or more goals in 14 of his 20 starts, and lost each of his first five starts and five of his last six starts in 18-19. Along the way, Subban has been injured on four different occasions including during the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
Then, there’s me, who falls somewhere in between but not really in line with either side.
First off, Subban is not bad… as a back-up.
Before we go into the future, let’s take care of the present. With the Golden Knights salary cap situation, it doesn’t get much better than Subban. There are 70 goalies with a contract equal to or greater than Subban’s new $850,000 deal. So monetarily, it’s perfect, if not cheap.
But beyond the money, Subban is exactly what you want as a back-up when you have a starter like Fleury. In a perfect world, the starts are split about 55/27 and Fleury takes the goal throughout a long playoff run. In that perfect world, all the back-up has to do is tread water. Subban has proven he’s more than capable of doing just that. In his Golden Knights career, he’s 21-14-4, has posted a .906 SV%, and allowed 2.81 goals per game. He’ll steal you a few, he’ll lose you a few, and he’ll hold down the fort in the rest. In short, he’s not going to be the downfall of a team.
It’s the imperfect world that makes Subban an even better option though. Physically, he’s gifted enough to take the reigns and become a legitimate starter, he’s just never had the chance to do it. In the event Fleury is unable to play for a playoff run (or he just gets old and stinks), the Golden Knights need someone with upside. Filling in a player like Ryan Miller, Calvin Pickard, or Antti Niemi simply won’t work. This isn’t to say Subban will be Fleury, but the capability is there, even if the probability is rather slim. Backup goalie is an insurance policy, and with Subban the Golden Knights get a player that’s affordable, won’t hurt them, and could help them in the event of a disaster. It’s a win, win, win.