WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 03: Goalie Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins in action against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on October 3, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins are looking stronger in goal for the 2018-19 NHL Hockey season. Drafting and developing goaltenders is a difficult task for any organization in the National Hockey League. You never know where you might find that next diamond in the rough. Plus, goaltenders can take longer to develop than forwards or defensemen.

Giving up too soon on a goaltender can be a huge mistake. In the 1964 NHL Amateur Draft, the Bruins selected a 16 year old goaltender named Ken Dryden with the 14th overall pick. The Bruins rather quickly dealt Dryden to the archrival Montreal Canadiens. I’m pretty sure you know how that turned out.

Let’s review Boston’s overall netminding depth to see what the future holds for an NHL Original Six franchise.

Boston Bruins Goaltending Depth Will Be Tested

Dynamic Duo

Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak form what should be a great combination reminiscent of seasons past. Anton Khudobin had an excellent season in 2017-2018 as Rask’s back-up but Halak should provide an upgrade since he has been a successful starter himself.

The B’s have had similar 1A and 1B netminders with combos such as Gerry Cheevers and Gilles Gilbert from 1975-1980 and Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin from 1987-1993. 1A’s and 1B’s tend to challenge each other to remain consistent throughout the season.

Leaving So Soon?

The Bruins initially planned for the future by selecting Malcolm Subban with their first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The B’s are not known for selecting goaltenders so early in the draft. After spending four years in the Bruins system developing, the organization didn’t seem to have Subban in their plans especially with Rask riding a sweet “no trade” clause. The few games that Subban appeared in with Boston did not go well at all.

The Bruins placed Subban on waivers and the brand new Vegas Golden Knights jumped at the opportunity and picked up the still unproven prospect. Last season, Subban improved his game backing up star netminder, Marc Andre Fleury. The Boston Bruins likely made a huge mistake sending Subban out the door.

Let’s delve deeper into the four remaining backstops still developing within the Bruins organization. I have personally seen each netminder at development and training camps over the last few seasons. Even with the loss of Subban, the future still shows promise.

Zane McIntyre Plays the Waiting Game

McIntyre was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the sixth round, 165th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

The netminder played from 2007-2010 in the United States High School League in Minnesota (USHS-MN) and the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League (UMHSEHL).

In 2010-2012 he moved on and put up respectable numbers for the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League (USHL) and was the 2011-12 USHL Goalie of the Year.

McIntyre then went on to play three seasons for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks from 2012-2015. In 2015, Zane took home the Mike Richter Award for NCAA Top Collegiate Goalie and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

In 2015-16, McIntyre played well enough to secure a spot with the Providence Bruins, the B’s AHL affiliate. His first season with Providence was average. In the 2016-17 season however, McIntyre upped his game with a stellar season. In 31 games, the netminder went 21-6-1 with a solid 2.03 GAA and a very good .930 save percentage.

Minor Setbacks?

In that same season, Zane got the call from the big club and appeared in eight contests but with an unremarkable 0-4-1 record. The 3.97 GAA and a weak .858 save percentage did little to help his cause. Not what the Bruins or McIntyre had hoped for.

Last season, Zane shared “the space between the pipes” with Jordan Binnington, on loan from the St Louis Blues. Zane, currently rated the number three netminder in the Bruins organization, went 26-15-2 with a 2.52 GAA in the .914 save percentage in 47 games. As you can see, the numbers still tell the story.

Zane looked decent in this years’ pre-season game against the Washington Capitals. The netminder brushed off 21 of 22 shots in regulation and then held the fort for all three during the shoot-out.

This year, the now 26 year old McIntyre, needs a “bounce back” season in the AHL to instill confidence in the B’s Brass. He is on the final season of his current deal. If he falters, Daniel Vladar could close the gap.

Daniel Vladar Advances to the AHL

Vladar, the 6 foot 5 Czech netminder, was a 3rd round pick, 75th overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

At Bruins development camp in 2015, I still recall watching Vladar take on shot after shot from former Bruins left wing and current B’s Amature Scout, P.J. Axelsson. My takeaway was the constant workload a young netminder must put in to improve and advance.

Vladar played from 2010-2017 with various Czech Republic teams even if only a handful of games. Still only 21 years of age, Vladar has shown improvements in his game.

In 2015-16, Vladar had a decent single season with the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

The young netminder quickly moved on to the Bruins ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators in 2016-17. The numbers were rough. In 18 games, Vladar went 5-9-1 with a 3.89 GAA and a .887 save percentage. Keep in mind, the ECHL can tend to be a shooting gallery. In that same season, the massive netminder worked in eight games with the Providence Bruins going 4-0-1 with a reasonable 2.62 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

Getting Better

Back in Atlanta for a second season in 2017-18, Vladar increased his workload to 41 games. His record of 17-18-1, along with 2.96 GAA and .911 save percentage, shows definite improvement. Vladar appeared in four more games for Providence and slightly improved his numbers from 2016-17.

Daniel was one of the B’s best at this year’s rookie tournament in Buffalo. Vladar was also impressive during this year’s B’s camp and was stellar during the preseason in a game against a solid Caps squad making 31 saves for the 5-2 victory.

This season, Vladar has advanced and will share the crease with seasoned AHL veteran Zane McIntyre. Even though Vladar is younger, I can certainly see him pushing McIntyre for the number one job.

Kyle Keyser, The OHL Kid 

Kyle Keyser, the 19 year-old netminder from Coral Springs Florida, went undrafted but that didn’t stop him. Keyser has nice size at 6 foot 2 and has the tools of which to work with. Don Sweeney and his scouting staff may have done their homework here. They invited Keyser to the team’s development camp in 2017. Before you knew it, Kyle was signing his entry-level deal. Things worked out well for Keyser since the Bruins were in need of a netminder to replace the Vegas-bound Malcolm Subban.

Keyser started out in 2013-2015 in the Tier One Elite Major Bantam class (T1EBHL) and moved up to the Under 16 Tier One Elite Hockey League Minor Midget class (T1EHL U16). He then advanced to the Tier One Elite Hockey League Major Midget level (T1EHL U18).

Keyser spent 2015-16 with the Flint Firebirds of the OHL racking up unimpressive numbers.  He saw duty in 17 games and went 4-10-0 with a poor 4.37 GAA and a .880 save percentage.

Third String

Fast forward to the Bruin’s 2018 development camp. Keyser was learning the ropes from guys like Rask and Khudobin. Keyser certainly soaked up what the veteran netminders had to say.  There were times during last year’s second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs that Keyser was the only netminder for Bruins practice sessions and at that time, he was slotted in as the team’s third netminder. A show of confidence from the B’s Brass and a huge learning experience for a 19 year old.

This experience was likely a reward for his 2017-18 performance with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. The new number one for the Generals played 47 games going 28-13-0 with a 3.16 GAA and a .904 save percentage. An improvement over his first season with the Generals which garnered numbers of 26 games for a record of 7-9-0. His GAA was 3.40 along with a .891 save percentage.

Once Keyser figures out how to best handle the mental and physical aspects of being a number one guy, he could really start to excel. Keyser has a familiar face in Oshawa’s Jack Studnicka. The Bruins current top forward prospect has seen what Keyser’s capability. For a young netminder, all you can do is continue your development in every area. The Bruins seem to have found a sweet prospect in Keyser. Kyle did well at this year’s rookie tournament in Buffalo. He played in the tournament opener and allowed only two goals on 37 shots.

Jeremy Swayman, North from Alaska 

Jeremy Swayman, 19 years of age, was drafted by Boston in the fourth round, 111th overall at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Swayman’s age and size match that of Keyser. Swayman spent four seasons in Alaska, from 2010-2015, playing in various Bantam, Midget and Under 18 leagues.

In 2016-17 he moved on to play a season in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede. He appeared in 32 games with a 2.90 GAA and a .914 save percentage with a record of 17-18-3.

Swayman, an NCAA University of Maine Black Bear since last season, played 31 games putting up a respectable record of 15-12-3 with a 2.72 GAA and a .921 save percentage. Swayman will be back between the pipes for the Black Bears once again.

In the 2017-18 season, Swayman won bronze at the Under-20 World Junior Championships.

Final Thoughts

The B’s are set in goal for at least the next two seasons with Rask and Halak. As for the prospects, developmental stages young netminders go through can be hard to predict.Some goalies advance quickly through the ranks while others need more time. The plan for any NHL club is to always have someone next in line. Teams also have the choice of acquiring a goalie through trade or can go the free agent route if the kids are not ready. As of now, the Bruins appear to be in good shape heading into the future.

The next step for Don Sweeney and his scouting staff? Get prepared for next years’ draft crop and hope you discover the next Ken Dryden!

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