By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me on Twitter @TimARichardson
Goaltending is an integral part of any NHL franchise. When you look back at the recent Stanley Cup Champions and teams that made deep runs into the playoffs, you notice that they all either had an elite goalie or they had a netminder get hot, which led them to that point. The Boston Bruins and their fans have had an embarrassment of riches between the pipes for some time now.
They had Tim Thomas play at an elite level, win two Vezina Trophies, the William M. Jennings trophy with back-up Manny Fernandez, a Stanley Cup, and a Conn Smythe Trophy for good measure. Those were some impossible skates to fill, but Tuukka Rask was up to the task. Rask won his own Vezina Trophy, made two Stanley Cup appearances, and won the William M. Jennings Trophy with back-up Jaroslav Halak.
Vaakanainen goes for a spin at center ice and Dan Vladar makes a phenomenal save to cover for him. Tough year for Vaakanainen, but Vladar has completely elevated himself. Need to see him do this through the playoffs and next season, but the needle is pointing up. #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/9mmnTT8foj
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) March 8, 2020
Dan Vladar By The Numbers
As you can see, most of the Boston Bruins’ recent success has been a direct result of having not only one but at times two above-average netminders on their roster. This leads me to the topic of the article. Dan Vladar’s continued growth and success are essential to the future of the Boston Bruins. Dan Vladar came to the Boston Bruins as a third-round draft pick 75th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.
After being drafted, Vladar had a successful stint with the Chicago Steel in the USHL, which saw him go 12-12-4 with a 2.31 GAA and .931 save percentage with three shutouts (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The young netminder would then have a successful tenure in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators going 23-27-4 with a 3.21 GAA and a .904 save percentage (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The Czech native would play his first full season in the AHL with Providence during 2018-2019.
Here’s Dan Vladar making the sprawling, desperation save as he’s dead to rights on the PK tonight. Vladar is big and tall, but he moves with purpose and efficiency in the crease. He’s also very athletic and has the potential to be a starter in the NHL. #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/EXHGUxFiEF
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) November 2, 2018
The 2018-2019 season was successful for Vladar, despite what the numbers may say. In 31 games with Providence, he went 13-13-5 with a 2.73 GAA, a .898 save percentage, and two shutouts (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The team as a whole was relatively weak even though they would go on to make the playoffs. The young netminder’s ability did shine through. He has the size you want from a goalie, and skills continued to improve as the year went on.
The 2019-2020 season is where Vladar really began to flourish as a goalie. He would have a minor injury early in the season but came back with a vengeance when healthy. In 25 games with Providence, he would have three shutouts to go along with a league-leading 1.79 GAA and a .936 save percentage (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The young goalie’s progression was phenomenal during the year. He was seeing the puck better, moved better in the crease side to side, and controlled rebounds at a better rate than the previous season. Currently, Vladar is playing on loan with HC Dynamo Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga. In three games, he’s 1-2 with a 1.91 GAA and a .933 save percentage (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) April 2, 2020
The Future and Why It’s So Important
There are a few reasons why Dan Vladar’s continued growth and success are imperative to the future success of the Boston Bruins. First, after the 2020-2021 season, both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are unrestricted free agents. With both player’s impending free agency, the near future of the position is in question. Will the Bruins retain one of Rask or Halak? Potentially, but neither players are a certainty to return. Second, beyond Vladar in the Bruins’ system, they have Kyle Keyser, who is going to spend the year with Jacksonville of the ECHL, and Jeremy Swayman, who has yet to play a professional game.
With all of that in mind, 2021-2022 could be Dan Vladar’s first full season in Boston. Hopefully, that would be as a back-up so he could ease into a starting position. That’s what makes the 2020-2021 campaign so vital for both Vladar and the Bruins. I’d expect Vladar to spend the bulk of the year in the AHL with Providence as long as they have a season. You may see him called up to Boston for injury reasons beyond that. No matter how you slice it, the not so distant future of the Bruins netminding rests on Vladar’s shoulders. I hope everyone is staying safe. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!