Bruins Need New Backup After Svedberg Signs in KHL
The Boston Bruins might need a new backup next season after incumbent Niklas Svedberg agreed to a one-year deal with Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the Kontinental Hockey League.
The 25-year old represented the Bruins 18 times this season, going 7-5-1 with a 2.33 goals against average and .918 save percentage, and was a restricted free agent.
After starting just five games for the Bruins since January 1st, the Swedish stopper seems to be looking for more consistent playing time and is now set to replace former Calgary Flames draft pick Leland Irving as Salavat’s No.1.
“He signed for one year. The ultimate goal is to go back to the NHL and be a starter,” Svedberg’s agent Allain Roy told CSN Boston. “It was just going to be tough in Boston with Tuukka [Rask] playing all the games. It was hard to get games there. He just figured going to Russia and playing 50 games this season [was better for him], and let’s face it: the money in the KHL is better than getting backup money in the NHL.”
With Rask playing 70 games for Boston this season, the backup role seems a little cloudy following Svedberg’s departure. There are a number of potential veteran signings available this summer, as well as options within the Bruins system.
Top prospect Malcolm Subban, 21, had a forgettable NHL debut in late February, giving up three goals on six shots against the St. Louis Blues, but is still one of the most highly regarded goaltending prospects on the circuit.
Whether jumping in to a backup role with limited playing time is right for him or Providence Bruins playing partner Jeremy Smith, who is also set to become a free agent, remains to be seen. But Providence coach Bruce Cassidy noted some areas of Subban’s game still require work.
““It always depends on who they’re pushing, and who is there on the [NHL] roster. I don’t think anybody knows. But is Subban ready to push for the backup job?” asked Cassidy rhetorically. “I think that would entirely depend on his training camp. He had a good year and he got better, but there are still a few things that he’s got to address.”
For Svedberg, who becomes the third Bruins backup to leave in the past three seasons, the grass is not necessarily greener for the goalies or the teams that sign them after success behind the stingy Bruins defense.
Rask’s previous backups Anton Khudobin and Chad Johnson posted similarly great numbers while with the Bruins, but have not truly made their mark elsewhere, with the former slumping this year after a promising first season with the Carolina Hurricanes and Johnson struggling after signing a two-year free agent contract with the New York Islanders before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the deadline.
That said, with the Bruins defense no longer as tight with Zdeno Chara aging, Dennis Seidenberg slowing and Johnny Boychuk departed, it’s not like Boston can just keep plugging any goalie in and expect a .925 save percentage anymore. Rask admitted playing 70 games – 12 more than his previous high – was not ideal so it’s important for the Bruins to find an option they are comfortable playing more than they did Svedberg last year.
According to the new NHL salary cap tracking website General Fanager, the Bruins options include:
|Matt Hackett||G||BUF||25||$750,750||UFA (VI)|
|Jason Missiaen||G||NYR||25||$715,000||UFA (VI)|
|Joe Cannata||G||VAN||25||$600,000||UFA (VI)|
|Tom McCollum||G||DET||25||$600,000||UFA (VI)|
|Jeremy Smith||G||BOS||26||$550,000||UFA (VI)|