BOSTON — The Bruins’ backup goaltender competition will be one of the most exciting and intense competitions of training camp and the preseason.
There are seven goaltenders in camp and four of them — Jonas Gustavsson, Zane McIntyre, Malcolm Subban and Jeremy Smith — will compete for Boston’s backup role.
The backup goalie position was an issue at times for the B’s last season. Starting netminder Tuukka Rask had to play a career-high 70 games, and there were several factors that went into that increased workload. One of them was Niklas Svedberg not playing well enough on a consistent basis to allow Rask to take off the desired number of days.
“It’s important for all teams. We’re in a position where we feel very comfortable with (Tuukka Rask being the No. 1), and now we have to find the ideal number of games for him,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Thursday, the first day of training camp.
“It will be less than what he played last year. I think the guys that are line for the backup position are extremely excited about the opportunity in front of them and I fully expect one, or more than one, to step forward and grab a hold of that and make it a very competitive camp.”
Gustavsson, who’s in camp on a professional tryout, likely is the frontrunner entering the first camp practice Friday based on the fact he has way more experience than the other three young goalies.
“You can’t trade anything for NHL experience,” Sweeney said. “Obviously, the other guys are champing at the bit to get that. Jeremy had a fantastic year last year in the American Hockey League, tandemed with Malcolm … he’s looking forward for his opportunity. Zane is acclimating from college. It’s exciting.
“You bring in a guy like Jonas, who wants to continue to play at the National Hockey League level, comes in on a tryout because he knows the opportunity is with us to try and grab that. He’s going to have to wrestle against a couple other guys.”
The Bruins enter camp with a lot of uncertainty and the backup goalie job is at the center of it. Luckily for head coach Claude Julien and his staff, having four goalies competing for one job is going to give them plenty of options before the final opening night rosters must be submitted.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Mar 8, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson (50) makes a save against the Boston Bruins during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports