BOLTON, Mass. — The role of Boston Bruins backup goalie hasn’t exactly been a long-term position.
The Bruins will trot out their fourth No. 2 netminder in four years this season after their 2013-14 backup, Chad Johnson, departed in free agency.
Johnson performed about as well as a secondary goaltender could for the B’s, posting a 17-4-3 record with a 2.10 goals against average on the heels of a similarly impressive campaign by his predecessor, current Carolina Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin.
Niklas Svedberg is the front-runner to nab Johnson’s old job in training camp after signing a one-year, one-way contract this summer, but he’ll face competition in the form of 2012 first-round draft pick Malcolm Subban, who split time with Svedberg in Providence last season.
The next few weeks will decide who begins the season with the big club, but head coach Claude Julien believes both are capable of continuing the trend of strong play in relief of starter Tuukka Rask.
“There’s Svedberg, there’s Subban — there’s a lot of guys that can certainly battle for that. But it’s never been an issue in the past,” Julien told reporters Tuesday at the annual Boston Bruins Foundation Golf Tournament. “We feel confident. Every guy we’ve had who’s come in as a secondary goaltender or backup goaltender has always done the job, so we don’t anticipate that being an issue again this year.”
As for Rask, he’s not concerned with the revolving door behind him, especially when it’s two homegrown talents — Svedberg signed with the Bruins out of the Swedish Elite League in 2012 — battling for the job.
“Not really,” Rask said. “It’s helped that we’ve kind of gotten to know each other over the years. I’ve known (Svedberg) for a couple of years now, just from the camps and stuff. So, it’s nothing like there’s a brand-new guy there I’ve never met, or we’ve never met each other, so I think that helps. Every goalie’s a different style and stuff like that, so that always changes things, but everyone’s been such a great guy, and we’ve gotten along so well.”
Svedberg’s contract gives him the edge from a financial standpoint — he’ll be paid $600,000 this season, regardless of whether he plays in the NHL or AHL — but his spot is far from guaranteed. The 25-year-old told reporters last week that he’s set on proving himself when camp opens Thursday.
“I’m going to try to have a good camp here and deserve a spot,” Svedberg said after an informal practice at Ristuccia Arena. “I’m happy for the contract, but I’ve got to come here, work hard and deserve my spot on the team, so it’s a long way to go.”
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