With Niklas Svedberg signing a one deal year with Salavat Yulaev of the Kontinental Hockey League, the Bruins are searching for a backup goaltender. Being the occasional replacement for Tuukka Rask, especially when the Bruins in the middle of the chase for a playoff spot, games for Svedberg to start were far and few between. Life playing behind a Vezina contender is not a glamourous one: the job description consists of toning your butt muscles by sitting at the end of the bench and being a model sporting a pom-pom hat, while once every blue moon having the opportunity to showcase your talents in between the pipes on a rare off day for Rask. However, if (God forbid) Rask succumbs to an injury, the backup goaltender will be counted on to keep the team afloat in the standings until the Finnish backstop returns. This position isn’t always a glamourous one to be in, but if the time comes, the backup will need to be ready to step up.
After a dominant career at North Dakota, including being the Fighting Sioux’s all-time leader in save percentage, McIntyre has his eyes on the prize. As the wild card of the three candidates, McIntrye’s solid development camp (his record sixth time competing with top prospects for a week in the summer) only continued to raise his stock. With a .929 save percentage and 2.05 goals against average, he lead his team to the Frozen Four. He showed improved positioning this development camp, enabling him to make challenging saves on high percentage shots from the slot.
Touted as the top prospect in the Bruins system ever since Gary Bettman announced him as the 24th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Subban disappointed in his only start at the NHL level. Allowing three goals on six shots, the St. Louis Blues ensured that Subban had an early exit by lighting the lamp early and often. Many fans grew quickly discouraged, nearly writing off the talented netminder. However, Subban performed admirably in Providence, notching a 15-10-0 record with a 2.44 goals against average and .921 save percentage. Subban is extremely athletic and battles for every save. His pure talent and natural athleticism enable him to compete for the backup role, and potentially dethrone Rask years down the road.
A career minor league player, Smith has never competed in an NHL contest. Following a stellar season with the Providence Bruins, Smith’s stock has catapulted. With a solid training camp, Smith might be able to separate himself from the competition and grab the backup role.
Four seasons removed from meddling in the ECHL, Smith dominated the AHL to the tune of a 2.05 goals against average and .933 save percentage, while posting a 22-11-5 record. Although a little undersized (6’0″, 178 lbs), Smith has solid fundamentals. He dominates minor league competition, but still needs to prove that he can compete at a high level against the best players in the world.
Verdict: Zane McIntyre
Although Smith brings experience and Subban’s athletic ability is virtually unparalleled, McIntyre’s positioning and puck handling skills separate himself from the pack. He uses his strong instincts to read the play and is very patient in all situations. Subban does not boast as strong technical fundamentals as McIntyre, and Smith lacks the star-potential that McIntyre brings to the table. It’s a luxury that the Bruins have strong candidates to compete for the role, but with a strong training camp, McIntyre could spend his first season as a professional in Boston.
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