When Kris Letang made his 2013-14 debut for the Pittsburgh Penguins, P.K. Subban was leading the NHL in point scoring from the blue line. To the surprise of no one. Does the newly returned Letang has a chance of catching Subban at the top of the list?
Which is really just a way of (sadly) asking: “Can Letang catch Subban in the race for the Norris Trophy?”
Subban is scoring at better than a point-per-game pace for the Montreal Canadiens, and hasn’t really come alive on the power play yet. Only one of his points is with the extra man, which means that the blueliner has been crushing it five-on-five. If Letang has a chance of catching Subban, it’ll be via power-play points.
Pittsburgh’s offense was rolling before Letang came back into the fold. The power play was clicking at 18.9% before the defender jumped back into the lineup. If that unit starts going around 25%, then Letang could possibly make up the lost ground. Of course he’ll need some help from Subban first.
Subban has only had two games so far this season where he hasn’t posted a point, and has three multi-point games to his credit. Either you believe that he’ll remain hot forever or that he’s going to put up Mike Green-like numbers this year. If that’s the case then Letang might not have had a prayer of keeping pace anyway.
Let’s not forget the motivation of contracts either. The Canadiens had a chance to lock up their electric defender to a long-term deal. Instead they gave Subban a “prove it” bridge contract that will be up at the end of this season. Think he’s fired up to make more than the $2.875 million for the next seven years?
Letang, on the other hand, just inked his long-term deal and might not be quite as motivated to post a point-per-game. Especially as he eases back into his flow coming off of the IR.
If you’re a betting man, don’t bet against Subban this season. You don’t have to bet against Letang either. There’s no doubt that he’ll be good, but it looks like this season is already the year of Subban. He’s just been a monster.