The Bruins rang the bell yesterday to end the competition for their backup goaltender position behind Tuukka Rask, as Malcolm Subban was placed on waivers.
Anton Khudobin, the 31-year-old who is entering the second year of a two-year contract with a salary-cap hit of $1.2 million, will start the season as Rask’s backup for the second straight season after compiling a 1.51 goals-against average and .948 save percentage in two preseason games.
Subban, 23, will report to the Bruins’ Providence farm team if he clears waivers.
“The camp was good, I was training hard over the summer and camp was camp, as usual,” Khudobin said after practice at Warrior Ice Arena yesterday. “Of course every year you have to show what you can because there’s no guarantee that you can be on the team or whatever. … And I’ve been working hard and I want to start the season the same as I finished.”
Khudobin famously left the Bruins in the lurch last season when he didn’t earn a win until Feb. 11. But that victory started a personal six-game winning streak that allowed the Bruins to get Rask rest down the stretch on their way to their first playoff berth in three seasons.
Any mention of the backup goalie position within earshot of a Bruins decision-maker elicited a response about Khudobin being able to replicate his play from that winning streak (he had a .927 save percentage) this season.
Khudobin got out to an early lead and won the battle with Subban and Zane McIntyre.
“I think Doby … came in, he looked good right away, was well-conditioned, practicing well and he played well. So it’s his spot, he earned it,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Still hope for Subban
Subban, the Bruins’ first-round pick (24th overall) in 2012, had a 2.71 GAA and .889 save percentage in four preseason games. Although his two NHL regular-season appearances have been disastrous with six goals allowed in 62 minutes of ice time, he had a strong AHL season with a .917 save percentage and 2.41 GAA last season.
Cassidy believes Subban still has a chance to be a NHL goalie.
“His camp was good, it was better than it was in the past. That’s why we’re talking about him,” Cassidy said. “If he winds up in Providence, he’s going to have to take that next step because there’s a pretty good guy down there that’s hungry to play too, he had a great year last year, Zane. The competition continues.”
Center Patrice Bergeron, forward Sean Kuraly and defenseman…