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When injuries decimated the Canadiens' blue-line last season, P.K. Subban was forced into a role that Jacques Martin would have liked to ease him into. P.K. saw time on the powerplay, was part of key matchups, and on most nights, topped the team in minutes played. With a (hopefully) healthy Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges returning, will the talented youngster continue his upward trajectory, or will he fall victim to the dreaded sophomore jinx?
In his first full year as an NHLer, Subban recorded a respectable 38 points. That point total was good for 3rd among rookie defenders (11th among all rookies) and led to him being named to the All-Rookie Team at the year's end. His 9 powerplay goals topped all Montreal players, as did his 124 penalty minutes. Subban also became the first Montreal Canadien defenceman in history to record a hat-trick as a rookie when he tallied 3 goals against the Minnesota Wild on March 20th, 2011.
Season Stats: 77 GP, 14 goals, 24 assists, -8, 124 PIM, 9 PPG, 9 PPA, 3 GWG, 197 shots, 22:16 TOI
Although Subban will assuredly earn top-4 defence minutes, it is unclear exactly which pairing he will be slotted in. P.K. finished last year as Hal Gill's partner, but with Gill's usual partner, Gorges, returning from injury, it is clear that someone will be lining up on a new pairing. Given his impressive footspeed and physicality, we can expect to see P.K. matched up against the opposition's best, and finish near the top with regards to ice-time. Subban's offensive prowess will undoubtedly see him earn some powerplay time, but given his and Markov's preference to play LD with the man-advantage, Subban may skate out on the second wave.
With Subban's high level of confidence, determination and physical makeup, it is unlikely that he will suffer from the sophomore jinx (knocks on wood) and take a step back. That being said, P.K. remains a work in progress, and he in all likelihood remains a few years back from elite status. Nonetheless, he remains a solid fantasy option, especially in leagues that have PIM and shot categories. If Subban does break out this year, he may prove an excellent sleeper pick, but to take him higher than your 3rd or 4th defenceman might prove foolish.