The Boston Bruins are in an interesting situation going into this offseason. Both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are unrestricted free agents, leaving them with rookie goaltenders Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar.
To make things even more interesting, Rask will be getting surgery during the offseason to repair a torn hip labrum and won’t be available until January or February. However, he made it known that he wants to continue playing but only if it’s for Boston, while Halak hasn’t been very vocal about his future.
So, even if Rask is re-signed, the Bruins will still have to roll with the tandem of Swayman and Vladar for around half the season. In a recent article, I wrote that comments made by team president Cam Neely suggested that this scenario is unlikely.
However, a reader commented that comments by general manager Don Sweeney contradicted Neely’s comments as he said the team would be comfortable with Swayman and Vladar in 2021-22. I cannot find evidence of these comments as they’re in the Providence Journal, which I do not have a subscription for.
In my opinion, if the Black and Gold are trying to win a cup next season, they’re best option is to sign a veteran goaltender to pair with either Swayman or Vladar — whether or not Rask is re-signed.
Both Swayman and Vladar are inexperienced when it comes to the NHL. Yeah, Swayman was great, but he only played in 10 games. Vladar looked good when the team’s defense was healthy and playing well, but he couldn’t help out the team when the defense was depleted.
So, going with Swayman and Vladar would be a huge risk, especially if you’re trying to win a cup. The B’s need to sign a veteran in free agency this offseason and also re-sign Rask. Once Rask is healthy again, he can take over as the starter with the backup being decided on how the other three options played throughout the season.
Luckily, this year’s free agent class for goaltenders looks to be quite strong. Here are three options that I think the B’s should consider signing.
3 free agent goalies the Bruins should consider signing for 2021-22.
3. James Reimer
Once considered the goaltender of the future for the Toronto Maple Leafs, James Reimer never panned out and has become one of the better platoon/backup options in the NHL.
Now 33 years old, Reimer has played on four different teams throughout his 11-year NHL career. Over these 11 seasons, Reimer has played in 385 games (351 starts) posting .913 save percentage (SV%), 2.79 goals-against average (GAA), .507 quality start percentage (QS%), and 24 shutouts.
For 2020-21, Reimer was a part of the Carolina Hurricanes. He played in 22 games (21 starts) recording a .906 SV%, 2.66 GAA, and .476 QS%. While these numbers aren’t necessarily bad, his -1.2 goals saved above average (GSAA) is concerning.
However, when looking closer at Reimer’s career stats, he appears to be an every-other-year player, playing quite well one year, then poorly the next, then well again the season after that. This year was the down year for Reimer.
With this in mind, if Reimer continues his pattern, he’ll play well next season — which would be perfect for the B’s.
Reimer would also fit as he probably would be open to playing behind Rask when Rask returns if Rask is re-signed. Reimer has been a career backup or platoon goalie, he won’t be looking to be a team’s starter as he was actually the Canes’ third option in net this past season.
However, with Reimer’s lack of history in being a starter for a team, he’s a bit risky as he would most likely get most of the starts during the first half of the season when he’s most likely paired with either Swayman or Vladar.
To be honest, I would rather re-sign Halak than sign Reimer. Reimer had a higher cap hit than Halak last season, and it’ll probably be the same for 2021-22. But, Halak has a history of being the No. 1 goalie for a team. The issue is that Halak probably won’t want to re-sign with the Bruins after being beaten out by a rookie goaltender for a playoff depth chart.