It was an open question the past few months as to whether the Bruins were going to go outside their organization for any backup goaltending help. It appears that question has been answered. All of the goalies that served Boston as backups to Tuukka Rask last season will be back this year.
Anton Khudobin is expected to return as the backup to Rask after an up-and-down season in his return to Boston and both Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban will be back in the mix after each signing two-year, two-way deals with the Bruins on Friday. Both contracts are worth $650,000 at the NHL level and could presumably lead to one of them being Rask’s backup two years from now if they can separate from the pack with their level of play.
“We feel very comfortable, as I’ve said before, if [the] Anton Khudobin, who played in Long Island and Chicago came back through [the doors]. I don’t think anyone’s questioning whether or not we have ample goaltending,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “The two players underneath in Zane [McIntyre] and Malcolm [Subban] need to take another step and push in that area. I would like Anton to walk through the door the same guy that played in those two games in particular.”
The bottom line is that one of these three goalies needs to step up and show the kind of quality play to allow Rask enough rest to be effective as the No. 1 goalie. It’s become very clear in recent seasons that Rask loses effectiveness when he’s pushed into a workload that’s too heavy and needs a backup who can play somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 games in support of him.
Last season, Khudobin, 31, played just 16 games and went 7-6-1 with a 2.64 goals-against average and .904 save percentage. He needed several trips to the AHL in the first half before finally getting his game together following the Bruins coaching change. McIntyre was 0-4-1 in his first taste of the NHL with a 3.97 GAA and .858 save percentage while Subban, 23, was once again a disaster in the NHL, where he was pulled from his only appearance after letting up three goals.
McIntyre, 24, might be the one that eventually emerges as the understudy to Rask after showing some impressive ability for the P-Bruins. McIntyre appeared in 31 games for Providence last season, going 21-6-1 with a 2.03 GAA and .930 save percentage. McIntyre led the AHL in save percentage and ranked second in GAA. He appeared in the AHL All-Star game and bounced between the AHL and NHL at midseason.