Over the past few seasons, the Boston Bruins have had one of hockey’s best goalie tandems in Tuukka Raska and Jaroslav Halak. While the pair will return next season, the future beyond then is uncertain. Both veteran netminders will be free agents next offseason, likely leaving the Bruins with at least one open spot at the NHL level. Regardless of what the Bruins decide, they have other options in the minors, such as Dan Vladar.
The Bruins prospect got his first taste of the NHL during the playoffs just a few months ago in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The third-round pick relieved Halak in Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and struggled as he allowed three goals on fifteen shots. However, the future is still bright for Vladar, who is coming off his best season in the AHL.
In 42 games, Vladar led the AHL with a 0.936 save percentage and GAA of 1.79. Vladar did not allow a goal in shootouts, going six for six in those opportunities. In a shortened season, he proved his value to the Bruins as they start to look towards the future.
Additionally, Vladar’s performance was encouraging considering how his 2018-2019 season went. In Vladar’s second AHL season, he had a 2.73 GAA and save percentage of 0.898. For the first time with Providence, Vladar appeared in more than eight games but struggled with the increased workload. As a result, the young netminder had a lot to prove this past season.
Furthermore, coming into last season, one of Vladar’s weakness was his rebound control. In his standout season, Vladar improved on that as he only allowed 42 goals after allowing 84 the year before. It is something he will look to build on in 2020.
With Rask and Halak under contract for one more year, it is unlikely Vladar will start the upcoming season in Boston. If injuries do arise, he will be the Bruins’ first call. However, the Bruins showed their faith in Vladar by signing him to a three-year extension in August, which comes with an annual cap hit of $750,000.
With the season likely only months away, Vladar will be preparing to show that last year was no fluke as he continues to improve his game. The Bruins also have recently drafted Jeremy Swayman, who is just starting his pro career, but Vladar will be looking to prove that he is the future in net.