WILMINGTON — At the beginning of February, Bruins prospect Malcolm Subban was on a roll. He’d posted a .939 save percentage over seven games with the Providence Bruins and was one spot on the goalie depth chart away from the NHL.
Even when he took a puck to the throat during warm-ups for a Feb. 6 game against Portland, Subban thought he would be fine. He went to get a drink of water with the trainer, croaking out that it was no big deal.
“I honestly thought I just got hit, it was just swollen and I was going to have to come back and back up on the bench and be freezing cold,” Subban said. “That’s what I thought was going to happen, I didn’t think anything serious happened, to be honest.”
The next day, however, Subban realized he had a bigger problem. The puck had fractured his larynx and he was going to need surgery.
“Well, yeah, I woke up with tubes down my throat, so I was pretty surprised,” Subban said.
After a five-day hospital stay and eight weeks of recovery, Subban was happy to be out on the ice at the Bruins’ development camp at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday.
“Lost some vocal cords so my singing voice is gone, but 100 percent recovery so it’s all you can ask for, really,” Subban said.
Subban had to type notes on his cellphone for two weeks to communicate with people while his voice recovered. It was raspy when it came back, but Subban was still in good spirits — the first thing he remembers saying out loud was a plea to his parents to let him buy a car.
“I was like, this is the perfect time to ask them,” Subban said.
Quickly, though, Subban was back to thinking about hockey.
Both he and Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo said Tuesday that he’s “100 percent” ready to play. The 22-year-old has made a full recovery, but the injury derailed what was turning into his best professional season.
“I mean, he was progressing great, it was unfortunate the injury had him miss half the season, but he’s definitely on the right track,” Pandolfo said.
Though Subban and Providence teammate Zane McIntyre worked with goaltending coach Bob Essensa before Tuesday’s session instead of participating in it, Pandolfo said Subban will be on the ice with the full group beginning Wednesday through the rest of the week.
Subban had a .911 save percentage over 27 games with Providence last season, a year after posting a .921 save percentage over 35 games. But Subban had been heating up and maintaining a calmer, more consistent presence in net leading up to his injury.
“I wanted to get back on the ice so bad,” Subban said.
Subban said he was feeling like he’d gotten back into game shape around the AHL playoffs, and that he might have been able to play had Providence made a deeper push, but he wasn’t sure because he hadn’t seen how he’d react in a game situation.
Camp will give Subban a chance to polish up his game, but he also could be under pressure to perform. The Bruins added Anton Khudobin, a former backup goalie in Boston, on a two-year deal on July 1.
Subban’s goal is to make the Bruins, but the 2012 first-rounder also said he’s not paying attention to how the Khudobin signing impacts his status.
“That’s not a question I can answer,” Subban said. “I’m not too focused on anything that goes on in the organization, it’s all just about playing my game and trying to make sure that I’m ready to go.”
“You look at Tuukka [Rask],” Subban added, “I’m sure he thinks of us as competitors, too. It’s healthy competition and that’s how you’ve got to be.”