The Bruins will have many tough decisions this offseason. A few players entering free agency are Riley Nash, Rick Nash, Anton Khudobin, and Tim Schaller. Of all these players, the most valuable is Khudobin. Before last season the Bruins struggled to find a good goalie to back up Rask. This cost them late in the season as they tried to make the postseason. After struggling in 2016-2017, Khudobin had a bounce back year. He proved this past season why resigning him will be key for the Bruins.
Khudobin by the Numbers
This past season Khudobin statistically had his best season since 2013-2014, when he was in Carolina. He recorded sixteen wins, which was three short of his career high. He had the third lowest Goal Against average of his career. Khudobin stabilized a position that has been a glaring weakness for the Bruins. He proved that he was able to handle the increased responsibility as he played the third most minutes of his career. He also recorded his first shutout since 2015-2016 when he was with the Ducks.
Picture Credit: John Tlumacki/ Globe Staff
Beyond the Statline
Khudobin’s impact was not just reflected in his numbers but the impact he had on the team. Early on in the season when Rask was struggling, his backup pushed him to improve. When it seemed like Rask may lose his job as the number one goalie to Khudobin, he played much better. The backups in recent years had never put that type of pressure on Rask. Khudobin’s play allowed the Bruins to rest Rask throughout the season to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Every night it seemed like the Bruins had a chance to win regardless of who was in net once Rask got on a roll. This was key for the Bruins as they have many young defenseman.
Will the Bruins Re-sign Their Backup ?
Resigning Khudobin will not be easy. The Bruins do not have much cap space to work with. They have to think of the future as Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Ryan Donato will all be restricted free agents after next season and Jake DeBrusk the year after. All those players will command large contracts and replacing them isn’t a simple task. The Bruins have no goaltender in the minors that is NHL ready. Bringing back Khudobin will be key for this team if the two sides can find common ground. A one year will deal may be best as it solves a present need while giving the Bruins flexibility in the future.