Malcolm Subban has sights set on Bruins’ back-up spot

AP
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The Boston Bruins want a better back-up goalie. Team president Cam Neely said so a couple of weeks ago, essentially slamming the book shut on Jonas Gustavsson‘s time with the organization.

While it remains to be seen who will replace Gustavsson, Malcolm Subban thinks “for sure” that he’s ready for the job. The 22-year-old’s confidence is high, despite fracturing his larynx in February.

“If you don’t believe you’re able to do it, then you’re probably not going to do it,” Subban told the Boston Herald. “Personally, yeah, I think I’ve developed a lot over the these past three years, in spite of the injury. Only time will tell, and it’s not my decision. If I come to camp and don’t play well, then I’ll make their decision a lot easier.”

Speaking of training camp, it will be interesting to see what kind of competition Subban faces once it starts. Tuukka Rask will be there, obviously. But will GM Don Sweeney go out and add a proven backup this offseason?

Perhaps Sweeney could target somebody like Jhonas Enroth, who wasn’t exactly thrilled with his playing time in Los Angeles this past season. Or maybe even Chad Johnson, the last reliable backup the Bruins actually had. Both Enroth and Johnson are pending unrestricted free agents, just to throw a couple of names out there.  

This is no small decision for Sweeney. For a bubble team like the B’s, the back-up goalie can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Case in point, Subban’s only career NHL start arose late in 2014-15 because the B’s didn’t have anyone beyond Niklas Svedberg. The debut was a disaster for Subban, who allowed three goals on just six shots.

Another factor that Sweeney will need to consider is Subban’s development. Remember that the Bruins drafted Subban 24th overall in 2012. He was the second goalie taken that year (after Andrei Vasilevskiy went 19th to Tampa Bay), and he remains a very important prospect for the organization, either as a future starter or a potential trade chip.

In other words, if he’s not ready for the NHL, the Bruins shouldn’t force it.

Related: Malcolm Subban feels he’s ‘taken a huge step forward’ from last year