BOSTON – The Bruins have made their decision on the backup goaltending competition during training camp, and the winner is Jonas Gustavsson.
Gustavsson has signed a one-year, one-way deal with the Bruins for $700,000 after playing through training camp on a veteran tryout contract.
The 30-year-old Gustavsson and Jeremy Smith were fairly even throughout all of training camp with the one big difference in NHL experience: the Swedish netminder has appeared in 148 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings while Smith still has yet to make his National Hockey League debut.
In the end, the Bruins opted for the known commodity in Gustavsson rather than roll the dice with a young netminder behind Tuukka Rask like they did last season when Niklas Svedberg failed them in the second half of the year. The 6-foot-4, 212-pound Swede played for the Detroit Red Wings from 2012 to 2015 appearing in 41 games with a 21-10-6 record. Prior to Detroit, Gustavsson played for three seasons in the Maple Leafs organization, and has racked up a 60-55-21 record with a 2.89 goals against average and .901 save percentage during his career.
Gustavsson has also played the backup role at the NHL level, which will be an important piece of experience given the sometimes sporadic nature of backing up a clear franchise goalie like Rask. During camp Gustavsson pitched a shutout in his first preseason appearance – the first half of the opening preseason game vs. the New Jersey Devils – and allowed three goals on 27 shots in a loss to the New York Rangers earlier this week.
Gustavsson managed to win the gig despite being forced to leave for a couple of days smack in the middle of camp for the birth of his first daughter. The decision of Gustavsson over Smith will now leave the Bruins with a surplus of goaltenders at Providence (Smith, Malcolm Subban, Zach McIntyre) provided that Smith clears through waivers on his way back to the AHL. There’s a possibility that McIntyre could be bumped down to the ECHL as one of the scenarios should Smith end up reporting to Providence. The organizational priority will be to get both Subban and McIntyre heavy playing time in any scenario.