What a difference a month can make.
Thirty days ago, it looked as though backup Andrew Raycroft would be Dallas’ temporary No. 1 goalie after Kari Lehtonen was lost to a groin injury. Raycroft’s lone challenger was unheralded rookie Richard Bachman, who had nine minutes of NHL experience.
Yet Bachman provided stellar play and wrestled the starting gig away from Raycroft. Now, with Lehtonen set to return to action on Thursday against Columbus, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk is putting Raycroft on waivers — meaning Bachman is the new No. 2.
“I think through his body of work, he’s earned the opportunity to move forward at this level,” Nieuwendyk told Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News. “It’s a process, and he’s still learning, but he has done a lot of good things and we feel he has the ability to be even better.”
Raycroft, 31, could be picked up by another team by 11 a.m. Thursday. While his numbers aren’t great this season — 2-8-0 with a 3.52 GAA and .898 save percentage — he’s still an intriguing option.
First, he’s affordable. There’s one year left on his deal that pays $650,000 annually.
Second, he’s coming off two pretty decent seasons. In 2009-10, he went 9-5-1 with a 2.42 GAA and .911 save percentage in Vancouver; last year he went 8-5-0 with a 2.83 GAA and .910 save percentage in Dallas.
Third, there are teams desperate for goaltending help — Columbus and Tampa Bay, most notably — and acquiring Raycroft is about as inexpensive and low-risk as it gets.
If no team claims Raycroft, it’s off to AHL Texas.
“It could be a good thing for Andrew,” Nieuwendyk said. “It’s certainly not easy for him, but I do believe it’s also an opportunity. He can get the chance to play some and maybe get into a groove.”