Anton Khudobin was an extraordinary backup goaltender for the Boston Bruins the last two seasons, but it wasn't enough for general manager Don Sweeney to be convinced to re-sign him to a contract extension.
A week ago during the draft weekend, Sweeney didn't sound very optimistic on any of his own unrestricted free agents, which include Khudobin, who was such a vital part of the Bruins' success overall last season. Things got worse on Friday, as it seems apparent that the Bruins will have to start searching elsewhere for a backup goaltender. Speaking at the end of Bruins development camp, Sweeney noted that talks with all of the team's free agents remain ongoing, but that "the goaltending (situation) is going in a different direction" -- signalling a more than likely end to Khudobin's tenure with the Bruins, as reported by Amalie Benjamin on NHL.com.
The 32-year-old goalie will officially hit free agency at noon on Sunday, is due for a pay raise after signing a two-year, $2.4 million contract with Boston prior to the 2016-17 season. On Saturday, Khudobin told Russian media that the difference between his demands on a two-year contract and what Bruins were offering was $150k. He tried to make some concessions, asked to add just $50k, but the team denied request, which explains why he is leaving, according to KHL insider Igor Eronko.
According to many reports, several teams have been looking to Khudobin, who has proven to be a great candidate for a team's No. 1 netminder. The Islanders, who keep looking for help in between the pipes as they also need to focus on re-signing their captain, have shown great interest in Khudobin as the opening of free agency kicks off in less than two days.
Boston starting goaltender Tuukka Rask experienced an early slump and Khudobin was there to keep the Bruins in contention as he took over as the started in between the pipes for close to two weeks.
Rask finished the 2017-18 regular season with a respectable 2.36 goals against average and .917 save percentage that ballooned to a 2.88 goals against average and .903 save percentage during the playoffs. By comparison, Khudobin was not much different putting up a 2.56 goals against average and .913 save percentage in the regular season. The biggest difference between the two isn’t reflected in their statistics though… it’s in their paycheck. Rask earned a cool $7 million this past season while Khudobin earned just $1.2 million.
On Saturday, it was also revealed that the Dallas Stars had inquired about Khuobin, who would be a good fit with the team in Texas.