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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

How will the Bruins address the future of the goaltender position?


Dan Vladar of the Boston Bruins in jersey.

Going into this season, I was certain that the Boston Bruins would have one of the best, if not the best goalie tandem in the NHL, with Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Right now, Rask is out with a back injury, and Halak has tested positive for COVID-19. So, for the time being, the B’s have been forced to use two of the younger goalies in their organization,  Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman. Both Swayman and Vladar have exceeded expectations since their call up to the NHL, and with Halak and Rask both in the final year of their contract, you have to wonder what the future of the goaltending position looks like for Boston.

Halak is in his third year here in Boston, and it is safe to say that he has been as solid as solid gets as a backup goaltender. In his time thus far in Boston, Halak has put up a 49–22–13 regular season record, while also serving as a starter in the playoffs last season when Rask opted out of the bubble. With Halak being 35 years old, it is likely that the Bruins will decide to part ways with the veteran goaltender after this season is over.

As for Rask, there has been some speculation that this year could be the final year of his career. Now that he has a nagging back injury, that could just push him towards his decision to hang up the skates. Rask, who is now 34 years old, is in the midst of his prime, but with various injuries of late we have to wonder if he may have one foot out of the door already mid-way through this season.

So, with Halak and Rask potentially gone, what does the future look like at the goaltending position for the Bruins?

First off, we have Dan Vladar. In his first four games this season, Vladar has put up a 2–1–1 record while posting a .922 save percentage. While he has been pretty good in the NHL, Vladar has been exceptional in the AHL, posting a 10–2–1 record with a .923 save percentage. These numbers are pointing in the direction of a player who is ready to make his jump to the NHL, however, it isn’t ideal for a team to be rolling a 23-year-old goaltender out there on a daily basis. In a perfect world, Vladar would be best served as a backup who can learn from a veteran guy like Rask, but with Rask potentially gone after this season, Vladar could see a lot more time starting in the coming years.

Then, we have Jeremy Swayman. Swayman is widely known as the Bruins top prospect, and now the fans are finally seeing why. In his first full season in the AHL, Swayman posted an 8–1–0 record along with a stellar .933 save percentage. Many project that Swayman will be the successor to Rask, and we are starting to get a taste of that on the NHL level. As of his first two games, Swayman is 2–0–0, including a huge win against the East division leading team, the Washington Capitals. Like Vladar, Swayman is a bit on the younger side at just 22 years old, and it would be nice to see him in a backup role like we saw way back when Rask was backing up Tim Thomas. However, it is tough to gauge his future role with the team, as Rask’s future is unknown right now.

There have been rumors that the Bruins have shown some interest in veteran goalies around the league like Darcy Kuemper with the Arizona Coyotes and Elvis Merzlikins with the Columbus Blue Jackets. These guys have shown at times that they can be starters, and if the Bruins were to acquire one of them, they could bridge the gap for Vladar or Swayman to fully develop into an NHL starter. Also, the fact that there are rumors that the B’s could be in on a goaltender shows that they are not banking on Rask being back next season. Although the future looks bright for the Bruins at the goaltending position, they could potentially use a little bit of help in the immediate future if Rask does retire.