One backup goaltender exits the folds, and another one enters. That’s typically how things go in the NHL free agency world, and that’s what’s going to happen with the Black and Gold where Jaroslav Halak is poised to replace Anton Khudobin as the backup goalie for Tuukka Rask in Boston.
Khudobin has agreed to a two-year contract with the Dallas Stars for roughly $2.5 million per season to be their backup goalie, a raise of over $1 million per season from his last contract with the Black and Gold. That’s a healthy raise for a goaltender that didn’t show up for B’s training camp in shape in his first season back with the club, and ended up getting bounced to Providence in the middle of the season before turning things around at the end of the year.
That put the Bruins in a tough spot where they now need to replace a backup goalie in Khudobin that was stellar backing up Tuukka Rask last year, and in a situation where the backup is going to have to play at least 25 games next season. So the Bruins have turned to 33-year-old Jaroslav Halak with a two-year deal, according to Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, that will be finalized now that free agency has opened on Sunday afternoon.
The Czech-born Halak is coming off his worst NHL season where he posted a .908 save percentage and a 3.19 goals against average while allowing a career-high 161 goals with the Islanders last season. But Halak is clearly a higher quality goaltender than Khudobin with nearly 500 career NHL appearances along with 42 career shutouts, and has been a starter in his NHL career with the Canadiens, the St. Louis Blues, the Washington Capitals and the Islanders.
Halak has been streaky in his 10 plus year in the league, of course, but his .916 career save percentage is better than Khudobin’s .913 save percentage last year in what amounts to his best season at the NHL level. Halak was played internationally with David Krejci and David Pastrnak on Czech National teams and has plenty of past experience with Bruins roving goaltending instructor Mike Dunham during their team in the Isles organization.
The bottom line: a multi-year deal for $2.5 million per season is too much for a pretty inconsistent goalie in Khudobin despite last season’s moments of brilliance. Halak is a better goaltender than Khudobin even if he’s been up-and-down with a bad defensive team in the Isles over the last few years, and could actually, really push Rask in a way that he’s never been challenged by career backups like Khudobin, Chad Johnson, Niklas Svedberg or Jonas Gustavsson over the last five plus years.