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Five NHL Teams Who Need Better Backup Goaltending
Photo Courtesy of Raw Charge

Five NHL Teams Who Need Better Backup Goaltending

The Calgary Flames reportedly placed Eddie Lack on waivers Thursday less than five months after he was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes.

The veteran netminder had struggled with the Flames, owning a 5.29 goals-against average and a save percentage of .813, so it’s understandable why Calgary chose to move on.

Here are five teams that could use a bonafide backup goaltender:

Calgary Flames

Starter Mike Smith has been a revelation this season putting on a goaltending clinic not seen in Calgary since the days of Miikka Kiprusoff. The first-year Flame has posted a .925 save rate through 19 games and has been consistently reliable for coach Glen Gulutzan.

 

Edmonton Oilers

Much like their Alberta rival, the Oilers have entrusted starter Cam Talbot with big minutes. The 30-year-old took on 73 games last year and is on pace to surpass that number this season. That workload deviates from the offseason plan as coach Todd McLellan said Talbot could benefit from fewer minutes.

The problem has been the performance of  No. 2 goalie Laurent Brossoit, whose play over the past two years has given little reason for McLellan to regularly call upon him. Brossoit has posted a subpar .865 save percentage through five appearances this season.

Photo courtesy of FanRag Sports

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Plans have rapidly changed in Pittsburgh where general manager Jim Rutherford initially thought offseason pickup Antti Niemi could handle 30-to-40 games and lighten the workload for young netminder Matt Murray.

However, Pittsburgh waived Niemi after three shoddy performances and turned to minor-league keepers Casey Desmith and Tristan Jarry. Both have potential but aren’t yet NHL-ready. This means Rutherford must head back to the drawing board in search of a consistent backup.

 

New York Rangers

It was difficult to understand New York’s rationale in signing Ondrei Pavelec, who struggled last year with the Winnipeg Jets and wasn’t much better after being demoted to the minors. The Rangers even paid Pavelec more than their former backup Antti Ranta, who was dealt to Arizona in the offseason.

The results haven’t been good. Through five showings on Broadway, Pavelec owns an .886 save percentage, ever-so-slightly worse than his numbers last year with the Jets. That left 35-year-old starter Hendrik Lundqvist to maintain a busy schedule even though the veteran goalkeeper could benefit from more nights on the bench.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Andrei Vaselivskiy, all of 23 years old, has proven capable of holding down the crease but the high-flying Lightning could be one injury away from disaster.

Backup Peter Budaj, who filled in well for the sidelined Jonathon Quick last season in Los Angeles, hasn’t enjoyed as much success since shifting to Tampa Bay via trade in February. The veteran netminder has allowed 10 goals in three outings this season and over two campaigns with the Lightning. His save rate sits below .900. Beefing up Tampa’s backup goaltending prior to this season’s trade deadline would be a wise move by GM Steve Yzerman.

About Yusuf Nakhooda

Ontario, Canada

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