Throughout the summer we’ve touched on the backup goalie situation in Boston. We’re all familiar with it. Simply put; it sucked last year. And the backup goalie position needs fixing, immediately.
The initial goalie battle for the upcoming season was setting up to be between Malcolm Subban, Jeremy Smith, and Zane McIntyre. All young prospects under contract with Boston. As of last week we can now add former Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson to the mix who has agreed to a tryout with the Bruins. He’ll be looking to come into training camp when it kicks off September 17th, swipe the vacant backup spot, and send the trio of young goalies on a bus back to Providence.
Bringing in Gustavsson on a tryout basis is a win-win move by GM Don Sweeney. Gustavsson’s play can prove at 30-years-old he is the best fit as the backup with his maturity and established NHL experience that has produced standard backup goalie career numbers (.901 save % and 2.89 GAA). Or he’ll end up just being a measuring stick for the younger goalies that convinces Sweeney one of them is ready. It’s a competition that can generate the necessary spark the already signed Subban, Smith, and McIntyre need to push one of them to the top of the list. Either way there’s no risk to the Bruins in giving Gustavsson a shot. Personally, if the Bruins had been thinking they’d utilize a tryout for a veteran goalie all along I would have liked to see it go to Ray Emery. Emery is a bit older than Guatavsson but he is also more experienced, and enjoyed more success. He was the Chicago Blackhawks backup goalie in 2013 when they beat the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. Emery will instead be headed to Tampa Bay on a tryout basis as well.
In the end I still feel Don Sweeney, Claude Julien, and the rest of the staff will settle on one of their three signed goalies already in waiting. It’s not to say Gustavsson can’t prove to be a capable option, Julien is known to fall in love with veterans, but I just can’t see them spending more valuable cap dollars on yet another goalie. But with the value of a good backup goalie being exposed last season Gustavsson may end up being the stabilizing piece Boston needs.