Goaltender is the most important position in hockey and the Boston Bruins are fortunate to have plenty of depth and skill there, throughout the organization.
The B’s have one of the NHL’s best No. 1 goalies in Tuukka Rask and two of the top prospects in Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre.
Here’s a year-end analysis of Boston’s goaltending depth.
Tuukka Rask: 70 GP, 34-21-13, .922 SV%, 2.30 GAA, three shutouts
Niklas Svedberg: 18 GP, 7-5-1, 918 SV%, 2.33 GAA, two shutouts
One stupid myth busted this season was that Rask is a product of the Bruins’ defense-first system. Rask was tremendous for the B’s and posted solid numbers despite Boston giving up more shot attempts, shots on goal and scoring chances than it did last season. He gave up two goals or fewer in 44 of his 70 games played.
In fact, Rask was among the league’s top netminders in the second half of the season.
|Jan. 1 thru April 11||GP||SV%||Adj SV%||SV%H||5v5 SV%||5v5 Adj SV%||5v5 SV%H|
Rask’s .935 save percentage during 5-on-5 play since the start of the 2011-12 season is the best among all goaltenders with 5,000-plus minutes played over that span. He’s one of the five best goalies in the world and signed through the 2020-21 season, which gives the Bruins great stability in net long-term.
Svedberg was Rask’s backup and only made 14 starts. His play wasn’t as strong as expected, but he would have benefited from more regular playing time. It’s difficult to ask a goaltender to perform at a high level after not playing for multiple weeks at a time. To his credit, Svedberg posted a save percentage above the league average despite his limited playing time.
“The number of games weren’t what I expected,” Svedberg said at breakup day in April. “I was hoping to play more, and I think I was playing good this year. So, certainly, I was hoping for more games.
“The kind of position we were in, there was a lot of pressure here on the team, so Tuukka played a lot of games and he also played very well. It’s the way it is. It was kind of frustrating. You want to play more, but that’s the way it is.”
The Bruins could sign a veteran backup if Svedberg does not return for the 2015-16 campaign.
UPDATE (12:30 p.m. ET): Svedberg reportedly has signed with a KHL team.
Malcolm Subban: 35 GP, 16-13-4, .921 SV%, 2.44 GAA, three shutouts
Jeremy Smith: 39 GP, 22-11-5, .933 SV%, 2.05 GAA, three shutouts
Subban made his debut for Boston on Feb. 18 against the St. Louis Blues and was pulled after giving up three goals in a little more than one period. He did play well in Providence, though, where he improved his fundamentals and gained valuable experience.
Subban might be considered for the B’s backup job, but the ideal role for him in 2015-16 would be starting for the P-Bruins. There’s no need to rush his development when Rask is the No. 1 at the NHL level.
Smith exceeded expectations and even became the No. 1 goalie for a good portion of Providence’s season. He also played well in the postseason with a .931 save percentage in three games. If Svedberg does not re-sign, Smith is a candidate to back up Rask next season, although his lack of any NHL experience is a minor concern.
Zane McIntyre (University of North Dakota): 42 GP, 29-9-3, .931 SV%, 2.00 GAA, one shutout
McIntyre is by far the best Bruins goalie prospect not in the NHL or AHL. He enjoyed a stellar junior season for North Dakota, which he led all the way to the Frozen Four. McIntyre also was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and won the Mike Richter Award as the best goalie in college hockey.
The 22-year-old has great size (6-foot-2, 202 pounds), good athleticism and plays the puck better than most netminders. McIntyre is ready for the AHL, but he could return to North Dakota for his senior season.
“I’m either coming back or I’m signing with the Bruins — one of those two,” McIntyre told the Grand Forks Herald on April 13. “That’s where I’m in the pickle.”
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images.
Salary information via General Fanager.