BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins have made their decision on their backup goaltender and they’ve also opened the door for one of their former first-round picks to leave the organization. Malcolm Subban was placed on waivers on Monday after a solid training camp, but not close to solid enough to knock Anton Khudobin off his established pedestal as Tuukka Rask’s backup.
Khudobin, 31, clinched his spot with a 35-save effort in Boston’s 1-0 loss to the Blackhawks in their preseason finale on Saturday night, and the Bruins hope he’ll be the same goalie that was outstanding in the second half of last season.
- B's play it safe with Chara, hoping it pays dividends
- HAGGERTY: Could Vatrano be in danger of not making the roster?
- Stronger, feistier Spooner making his mark
- Who gets the final roster spots?
“I think we’d been upfront about there being a competition for the backup spot, but I think [Khudobin] came in and looked good right away, and was well-conditioned and practiced well,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “He played well, so it’s his spot. He earned it.”
The writing was on the wall a bit for Subban, 23, after he was left unprotected in this summer’s expansion draft. The question now becomes if he’ll pass through waivers and report to Providence.
If Subban clears, then the Bruins hope he’ll be able to take the next step and dominate in the AHL after a fairly strong NHL camp. If he’s claimed by another NHL team then the door will be officially closed on another first-round pick bust from Peter Chiarelli’s tenure running the hockey operations in Boston. It will actually be interesting to see if any NHL team lacking goaltending depth takes a chance on claiming Subban before noon Tuesday, but it would be a bit surprising given his disastrous outings in the NHL regular season. (More below.)
“He’s carrying himself and he looks like he’s a more comfortable guy. It’s not confident because he’s always had a certain level of confidence, but he just looks more comfortable. Some of that I’d assume has to do with a good showing in Boston [during training camp],” said Cassidy. “[Subban] has stated publicly that he wants to play well for the Boston Bruins, and not for some other team. He wants to do it at this level. His camp was good and better than they’ve been in the past, and that’s why we’re talking about him.
“If he ends up in Providence then he needs to take that next step because there’s another guy down there that’s hungry to play in Zane [McIntyre]. He had a great year last year. The competition continues, but he looks better, more comfortable and more in control. It might just be maturity.”
Subban's 5.81 goals-against average and .727 save percentage in two NHL starts are among the worst in NHL history. Subban has been yanked in the second period from each of those games following pretty epic meltdowns. The hope is that he can build on the fairly average 2.41 GAA and .917 save percentage he posted last season in Providence, but he’ll need to do it while competing with McIntyre for playing time if he does clear waivers.