The Bruins showed their faith in their future goaltending by signing 2012 first-round pick Malcolm Subban to a three-year entry-level contract on Thursday.
Subban's contract will begin once he plays 10 or more games in the NHL, which might not be for a while. He'll play for the Bellville Bulls this season.
But Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he is still very confident in his present goaltending situation. When Tim Thomas announced he would forgo the final season of his contract with the Bruins and not play in 2012-13 for personal reasons, Chiarelli made it clear that the starting job between the pipes was now Tuukka Rask’s to lose. He also was adamant that Anton Khudobin would enter camp as Rask’s backup.
That stance hasn’t changed over the summer, and Chiarelli said there are no plans to give a veteran free-agent goaltender a chance to challenge for the backup role when training camp begins.
“I’ve said it before when Tim announced he wasn’t playing and I’ll say it again that I am satisfied with these two guys to start the season as our goalies,” Chiarelli told ESPNBoston.com recently. “I won’t make any further additions to start the year and I don’t see me making any for a while. I’m going to give these two guys a real good chance here.”
Chiarelli raved about the progress Rask has made this summer as he recovers from a late-season groin injury that forced him to miss the final 19 games of the 2011-12 season as well as the entire seven-game series loss to the Capitals in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“He has been training hard with our strength and conditioning coach Johnny Whitesides, and from all accounts he’s healthy and doing great,” Chiarelli said. “He has passed all his tests and is stronger and ready.”
Despite Rask’s lack of experience -- having played the backup role to Thomas except for the second half of the 2009-10 regular season and playoffs -- Chiarelli still believes Rask is ready to seize the opportunity to be the team’s No.1 goalie.
“I think this, as we’ve said before, is a huge chance for Tuukka to prove he’s ready for the role, and we’ve seen him succeed before so we believe he can do it,” Chiarelli said of the 25-year-old Finnish netminder. “I have full confidence in him that he can be the goalie we all expect him to be.”
As for the 26-year-old Khudobin, who has only seven NHL games on his resume (including a 45-save performance in a 3-1 win at Ottawa April 5), Chiarelli likes what he’s seen from Khudobin in terms of dedication.
“The biggest thing is that he took his conditioning more seriously,” Chiarelli said of Khudobin. “He dropped about 15 pounds and he came in a lot quicker and stronger. So I saw a commitment that I hadn’t seen before. It’s hard because it was a sample size since we didn’t have him for that long, but all we saw was positives. Every time he came up to the NHL he has played well, and he had a strong year in Providence.”