Above Photo Credit: Alan Sullivan (Alan Sullivan Photography)
By Mark Allred Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
Boston Bruins prospect goaltender Dan Vladar is about to wrap up his first professional season with the B’s affiliated minor league teams, and although his numbers don’t scream excellence, he’s progressing nicely in his continued development. Selected in the third round of the 2015 National Hockey League Entry Draft from Sunrise, Florida, his addition to the depth of the organization may become more relevant over this summer’s offseason as fellow organizational netminders Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban are slated to be restricted free agents in July.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 8, 2016
After his 2015 draft year, the 6′-5″ 196-pound Praha, Czech Republic native left a long International Junior career to take his talents to North America with the United States Hockey Leagues Chicago Steel which is a developmental league for players about to transition into the collegiate ranks of the NCAA. Although Vladar wasn’t eligible to play in the NCAA due to playing eight professional games in Europe, he had a solid season with the Steel team in 2015-16 posting a 12-12-4 record with a 2.31 Goals-Against-Average and .920 Save Percentage. His play and composer in 30 games played in the USHL were enough for Bruins Brass and Scouts to sign him to a three-year entry-level contract in April of 2016.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 1, 2015
— USHL (@USHL) March 19, 2016
Vladar had outstanding Bruins Development Camps in the summers of 2015 and 2016 where he worked hard to prove himself as one of the top prospects at his position which ultimately had the Bruins place him in the East Coast Hockey League which is the top “AA” affiliate for his first minor-pro season. So far this year with the Atlanta Gladiators and two regular season games remaining in the 2016-17 season Vladar is 5-9-1-1 with a 4.02 GAA and .883% which to many are horrible numbers no matter what level of professional hockey but what many fans don’t understand is this Glads team is just not good. Atlanta is below .500 at the 70 game mark and honestly depleted their roster earlier in the season especially on defense, so you really can’t blame Vladar for his efforts but appreciate the games he’s been involved in as time in the crease working hard.
— Atlanta Gladiators (@atlgladiators) October 20, 2016
Now here’s the interesting part of this article as I explain what he’s done in limited action at a higher level when needed this year. There have been many transactions this season involving the goaltending depth as injuries happen but when called upon on an emergency recall the now 19-year-old Vladar has shown a whole new level of his game when sent to the American Hockey League with the Bruins top-minor Pro affiliate, the Providence Bruins. In eight games played in the AHL this season, he’s undefeated posting a 4-0-2 record and a 2.62 GAA and .921 save%. This is proof the young goaltender has game with a better-structured team in front of him especially on defense where he’s less relied on in the ECHL.
After another strong development camp this summer and increased offseason workout regiment it’s heavily believed Vladar will join the Baby B’s in a permanent role as the NHL Bruins may be ready to walk away from Malcolm Subban who’s not lived up to expectations from a first round selection in 2012. With RFA negotiations approaching the Bruins would be lucky if the Expansion Draft Vegas Golden Knights franchise select the exposed goaltender and if not selected in the June 21st festivities should be moved in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, Illinois less than a week later.
— AHL (@TheAHL) March 26, 2017
Regardless of who goes where and who’s signed and not, Vladar is going to be a key element in the Bruins future and what I’ve seen from him in both development camps he’s been invited to he could easily step into an NHL starting role when Bruins current crease boss, Tuukka Rask’s contract, is set to expire after the 2020-21 season. For a big goaltender, he’s a very athletically sound player with outstanding reflexes and agility. With his big frame, he cuts down shooters angles very well with an aggressive style but able to recover quickly after making the first save. His hockey IQ and rebound control are one of his better attributes as he cautiously tries to keep the puck out of the “danger zones” when making a reaction save. My favorite part of his game is his post-to-post movements laterally when a loose puck is around the crease as he shuts down the bottom of the net effectively.
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