There’s no question that Tuukka Rask will enter the 2013-14 campaign as the Boston Bruins’ undisputed starting goaltender. He was superb in the lockout-shortened season after spending years as the overqualified backup of Tim Thomas.
The fact that the Bruins signed him to an eight-year, $56 million contract speaks volumes about their level of confidence in him and it’s warranted. But Rask’s understudy will still have relevancy next season.
After all, while the Bruins will lean on Rask, the 26-year-old has never played in more than 45 NHL games in a single season. If you expand those numbers to include the minors and professional European leagues, Rask’s regular season career-high was in 2008-09 when he played in 57 contests with the AHL Providence Bruins.
So the Bruins might be cautious about overworking him and with Anton Khudobin gone, they don’t have a clear backup netminder. Chad Johnson, who is 27 years old and has 10 games worth of NHL experience, signed a one-way contract, so he would seem to have the inside track going into training camp, but he’s not the only candidate.
23-year-old goaltender Niklas Svedberg is coming off a great season where he recorded a 2.17 GAA and .925 save percentage in 48 games with Providence. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has confirmed that Svedberg will get a shot to win the number two spot, according to the team’s Twitter account.
Malcolm Subban, 19, would be an exciting candidate, but the Bruins aren’t looking to rush him to the NHL. He will start the 2013-14 season in the AHL after a superb campaign with the OHL Belleville Bulls.
On the eve of their season opener, the Buffalo Sabres got another bit of bad health news.
Captain Brian Gionta missed practice and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, per head coach Dan Bylsma. The ailment puts the 36-year-old’s availability for Thursday’s game against Ottawa in jeopardy.
The ailment also puts Gionta alongside a slew of hurting Sabres. Defensemen Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges were on the injured list when Buffalo’ roster was released this morning, along with rookie Brendan Guhle and veteran Cody McCormick.
There is a bright light for Buffalo, however.
Gorges skated on Wednesday and could possibly dress tomorrow, per Bylsma. If he does play, it’ll likely be on a pairing with Rasmus Ristolainen.
As was the case last season, Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer because he went unsigned over the summer and once again he has used that opportunity to extend his career.
The St. Louis Blues announced that they have signed Gomez to a one-year contract. They didn’t disclose the financial terms, but it’s a two-way deal that comes with a base salary of $575K at the NHL level, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.
In order to free up the space necessary to sign him, St. Louis moved Patrik Berglund to the long-term injured reserve list. Berglund had shoulder surgery in August and isn’t expected to be available until January.
Gomez, 35, is coming off of a resurgence campaign where he recorded 34 points in 58 games on a Devils’ team that finished near the bottom of the pack offensively. The two-time Stanley Cup champion will be bringing more than a 1,000 games worth of NHL experience to St. Louis.
He’s not the only veteran forward to make the team off of a PTO as the Blues signed Scottie Upshall on Monday.