The Boston Bruins are in a bit of a strange situation right now, after missing the playoffs for the second straight season. As a team that some thought were headed toward a “rebuild” stage prior to last season, the Bruins went on to fall just short of the playoffs, offering no real answer to the problems that faced them at the start of the season.
The Bruins have several organizational issues that need to be addressed, but one thing they do have going for them is goaltending depth. Behind Tuukka Rask and Jonas Gustavsson, the Bruins are stacked pretty deep in the prospect pool as far as goaltending is concerned.
Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, and Daniel Vladar are all up-and-coming netminders that could fill Tuukka Rask’s role someday or be sold off to another team. Take a look at each of their seasons in review:
Hockeysfuture.com ranks Malcolm Subban as the Boston Bruins’ #1 prospect. However, the 22-year-old goaltender had a pretty tough year with the Providence Bruins on several fronts. For starters, Subban got out to a horrible start last fall. He lost seven of his first eight games to start the season while posting a lackluster .871 save percentage and a 3.10 goals against average.
Subban got over the hump in December and won five of his next six games, allowing just nine goals over the stretch. He went on to finish the month of December with a .926 save percentage, and a 2.34 goals against average for the month. By January, it appeared that the third-year pro had really turned things around, as he went on to post tremendous monthly totals. Subban won eight of his nine games in January (his only loss coming in overtime in which he allowed only two goals), and allowed only fifteen goals in the eight games he played. A .935 save percentage and 1.84 goals against average on the month brought his yearly totals up to .913 and 2.45, respectively.
After finally appearing to be in the clear following a successful month of January, disaster struck prior to his second game in February. In the warmups of Providence’s February 6th matchup with the Portland Pirates, Subban was hit in the throat with a puck and was brought to a nearby hospital for treatment. Subban ended up requiring season-ending surgery on his fractured larynx and remained out of commission for the remainder of the season.
After posting record-breaking numbers at the University of North Dakota, the Thief River Falls native signed a contract with the Boston Bruins. Upon getting a look in training camp, McIntyre was slated as Malcolm Subban’s back-up to begin the season. McIntyre made 18 appearances prior to Subban’s injury and went through a tough adjustment period as he transitioned from college to the professional game. Through January, McIntyre posted a .884 save percentage, paired with a 3.04 goals against average.
“The biggest thing is learning, adapting and overcoming,” McIntyre said back in early January, per Masslive.com. “You know there are going to be highs and lows in each game. They are going to press but I know we’re going to press back so it’s about just managing my game, and my tools that I have in my toolbox. At the end of the day it’s about helping our team win. That’s the biggest thing. When you’re called upon it’s your turn to put your best foot forward and I think that’s what I’m trying to put the most of my focus and initiative on.”
Less than a month later, McIntyre was called upon to step up as Subban went down with an injury. Despite remaining as the backup to Jeremy Smith (who had a tremendous season, especially in the latter months), McIntyre picked up his game. The 23-year-old won eight of his last twelve starts, giving up two or fewer goals in seven of those games. McIntyre posted a .940 save percentage and 1.40 goals against average in four starts to finish off the regular season in April.
18-year-old Daniel Vladar spent the season with the Chicago Steel of the USHL. The 2015 3rd-round draft pick (75th overall) by the Bruins spent several seasons developing in the Czech Republic before coming to the United States. Vladar lost five of his first six starts, despite giving up two or fewer goals in four of those games. He went on to have a tremendous month of November, posting a .964 save percentage and 1.16 goals against average in four appearances. While splitting time in net, the six-foot-five-inch netminder went on to post a .920 save percentage on the season, paired with a 2.31 goals against average.
Vladar recently signed with the Bruins, and will in all likelihood be headed to the minors, where he’ll look to make a name for himself with the Bruins organization.
Next season should provide the Boston with some answers. Malcolm Subban will be coming off of a pretty serious injury, and will be looking to prove that he means business in the final year of his contract. Zane McIntyre, also in the final year of his entry-level contract, will aim to show signs of improvement in his second AHL season. Meanwhile, Daniel Vladar will be looking to prove himself in black and gold for the first time.
Bruins management will need to decide who is worth hold onto for the future, and who to sell off for other assets.