With Tim Thomas' shocking decision to sit out the 2012-13 season, Tuukka Rask's new contract and the selection of Malcolm Subban in the first round of June's draft, there's been no shortage of goalie news this offseason for the Bruins.
Lost amid all of that has been another development on the netminding front that could pay off nicely in the coming years. The Bruins also signed Swedish goaltender Niklas Svedberg this offseason.
He made his North American debut at the club's recent development camp, and is expected to compete for the starting role with the Bruins' American Hockey League affiliate in Providence this season.
Playing in the AHL will be an adjustment for Svedberg, as he'll have to adapt to the smaller ice surfaces in North America and the different style of play. The development camp didn't feature a lot of game-like situations, but Svedberg did get to practice on the smaller ice and participated in the scrimmages in the final two days of workouts.
"It was good for me to come over to see how everything works here in this organization and also to try the smaller rinks a little bit," Svedberg said. "It's good to get a taste of it so you know a little bit of what it's all about when you come back for [training] camp."
Despite the differences from what he's used to seeing in Sweden, Svedberg doesn't plan to make any major changes in his approach in the crease.
"There are differences between the game here and the game in Europe for a goalie," Svedberg said. "But I think I'm going to play my same game. A little bit different angles, but I like the smaller rinks here and I think it's going to go fine."
Things were certainly fine for Svedberg back home this past year. The 22-year-old netminder finally got a chance to play in the postseason in the Swedish Elite League, and made his first playoff run a memorable one as he led Brynas to its first league championship since 1999. He posted four shutouts in 13 playoff games, finishing the postseason with a 1.70 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.
"The playoffs was a great experience for me," said Svedberg, a native of Stockholm, which is about 90 minutes south of Brynas. "My first two years in the elite league, one year I was injured and the other we missed the playoffs, so this was my first playoff at the pro level. It was a good experience for me, a lot of pressure and big games. And we went all the way, so that was a huge experience for me."
It also led to a huge opportunity for Svedberg, as that playoff showing helped convince the Bruins to offer him a contract. Svedberg felt after that experience, the time was right for a new challenge in North America.
"I had three years in the Elite League, so I felt like I have lots of experience from back home," said Svedberg, who posted a 2.47 GAA and .912 save percentage in the regular season. "Most of all, I had a really good year this year, especially in the playoffs. It seemed like a really good point for me to leave and when I got the opportunity from the Bruins, there was no doubt about it. I want to come over here to play."
Svedberg was signed to a two-year, two-way contract that will carry a $933,750 cap hit in the NHL and a $70,000 salary in the AHL. With Rask and Anton Khudobin set as the goalie tandem in Boston, Svedberg is expected to head to Providence this year. He'll face competition for playing time there from Michael Hutchinson and Adam Morrison, but the Bruins have high expectations for the Swedish import.
"Svedberg we expect would go down and challenge [for the starting role in Providence] based on the success he's had in Europe and being a little bit older," Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney said.
"I mean obviously you hope so," Sweeney added when asked if Svedberg's pro experience in Sweden puts him further along the development track than some of the club's other goalie prospects. "You signed him and made him part of your organization. You feel like he's ready for that challenge. There'll be acclimatization and getting acclimated to North American hockey. There's no question that that's part of the exercise in making sure he was here and part of this camp. Realizing that rinks are smaller and where the shots are coming from and such are just different. So that will be part of it and how quickly he responds to that. I don't think he changes his style as a result of that. I think we like where he's positioning in the net."
Svedberg is also content with starting out in Providence, but made it clear his goal is to get to Boston. Even growing up in Sweden, the NHL beckoned louder than the Elite League of his homeland.
"The NHL has always been my goal," Svedberg said. "So I'm really happy to be here in the Bruins organization and I'm going to work really hard to work my way up to the NHL."
The development camp was the first step toward that goal. Svedberg, who plans to work out with fellow Swedish goalies Niklas Backstrom and Jacob Markstrom this summer in Sweden, will be back in September hoping to inch closer to that dream in his first training camp.