The Boston Bruins arguably had the best goaltending situation in the National Hockey League this season.
Not only did they have usual starter Tuukka Rask often playing at a high level, backup netminder Anton Khudobin also had one of his best campaigns in quite some time. He was a seamless fit when Rask needed a night off or was slumping, and stepped up big in some important games.
Khudobin has played for four different NHL franchises in his career — including two separate stints with the B’s. Having been around the league and country, Khudobin expressed a tremendous love for the city of Boston itself.
“I want to be here. I like it here,” the goalie said during Bruins breakup day Wednesday. “I’ve been in California, I’ve been in Texas, I’ve been in Carolina, I’ve been in Minnesota. I’ve been in a lot of cities and a lot of states, and Boston is my favorite one. That’s clearly, and it’s not because I want to give it a shot or try to say I’m so nice, I’m going to just sign here. This is my favorite city. That’s the way it is. It doesn’t matter if I’m going to sign here, or if I’m going to go away or if I’m going to sign here. Boston is still going to be my favorite city.”
Khudobin is set to become a free agent after coming back to the Bruins on a two-year deal during the 2016 offseason. Should Khudobin walk, Zane McIntyre presumably would be Boston’s in-house replacement if they elect against perusing the free-agent market.
That said, with the campaign the backup posted this season, he likely will get offers from teams around the NHL. But when it comes time to possibly negotiate with the Bruins, the recently-turned 32-year-old knows the team’s brass is aware of his love for Boston and desire to stay in Massachusetts.
“Well that’s the thing. (Bruins general manager Don Sweeney) knows that I love it here,” Khudobin said. “I love the city and everybody knows it. How much is it going to be a factor in signing a new contract, I don’t know. I don’t think it will be a factor. I don’t think it matters. It matters what they can offer, and how much I’m willing to take. But for me personally, I would love to stay here.
“I’m 32 right now, and if I’m going to play until 40, I would love to play another eight years here. So that’s clear for me, and if we will get a deal, today, or tomorrow, or in free agency, I don’t know. But if it will happen in Boston, I will be happy.”
NHL free agency opens on July 1.
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