Last week, after the Boston Bruins were eliminated from the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs by the New York Islanders, we learned that starting goaltender Tuukka Rask had been playing with a torn hip labrum.
This injury will require surgery and will keep Rask out until January or February of 2022. This means that, unless the B’s either re-sign Jaroslav Halak or bring in a veteran goalie from free agency, they’ll have just rookies Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar as options in the NHL unit Rask returns.
Of course, with Rask being an unrestricted free agent, this is also if Rask decides to keep playing, which it sounds like he does — but only for Boston. So, a new contract has to be of mutual interest between both the Black and Gold and Rask — which it seems like it is, as of right now.
However, the same cannot be said for Boston and Halak. Halak lost the backup job to Swayman later in the season as Swayman was lights out and Halak struggled after returning from a bought with COVID. Swayman was even the backup to Rask in the playoffs with Halak being the third-string.
But will the B’s give Swayman a shot as the No. 1 goalie with Vladar backing him up after just 10 NHL games and 19 total professional games (NHL and AHL)?
Comments from Bruins’ President Cam Neely suggest they will not be going with Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar in 2021-22.
When asked about Swayman, Vladar, and the B’s goalie situation for next season, Neely said that Swayman and Vladar taking on a full-time NHL workload would be a “tall task,” suggesting that the option of going with these two and waiting it out until Rask returns is quite unlikely.
More from Causeway Crowd
- Harrison, Toporowski shine in Prospects Challenge
- Obscure former Boston Bruins: Steven Kampfer
- Bruins release Prospects Challenge roster, schedule Tuesday
- Bruins release full “Historic 100” list ahead of season
- McAvoy, Lucic named to “Historic 100” list over the weekend
While Swayman was amazing for a literal rookie (first season playing any level of professional hockey), he still only played a total of 11 games (one relief appearance in the playoffs) in the NHL. It would still be a big risk giving him a full-time gig in the NHL without seeing more of him in the AHL and emergency use in the NHL.
Additionally, although Swayman was the better goaltender this season, the job should go to Vladar as he has seniority. Vladar has spent the last five seasons developing in the AHL to be the next B’s goaltender. Just skipping over him would be extremely disrespectful.
While I don’t necessarily think this — I think the better goaltender should get the job, it’s a business and you need to go with the personnel that gives you the best chance of success — there’s a rumor around suggesting B’s management thinks this should be the case.
So not only do Neely’s comments suggest it, but there’s also a rumor that came out before Neely’s comments were made that said Boston would be starting Swayman in the AHL next year and would be going with a veteran and Vladar tandem in the NHL.
It may be unknown if Halak will be back next season, but it seems certain that Rask will not be the only veteran on the Bruins’ roster when he returns January or February as Swayman looks destined for the AHL next season and Vladar will most likely be playing alongside a vet until Rask returns.