7 NHL Teams That Will (Or Might) Start Next Season with a New No. 1 Goalie
It doesn’t look like either half of the goaltending card from the 2011 Eastern Conference finals is going to be scraping any blue paint in the next NHL season. Another one of the final four starting stoppers from that Stanley Cup playoff could be wearing new attire by the time play resumes.
Three teams this offseason have imported or exported one netminder and at least two are guaranteed to see a different masked face from 2011-12 play the majority of the schedule in 2012-13.
A similar possibility hovers in a handful of other dressing rooms as past starters will try to retain or regain their claim to the No. 1 slot in a backstopping brigade.
In alphabetical order, here is a brief assessment of the state of the seven NHL teams whose changing of the guard is a possibility, probability or foregone conclusion.
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Tuukka Rask had the top job with the Bruins as an NHL rookie, then had it wrested away by Tim Thomas’ second wind throughout 2010-11 and 2011-12.
To date, his career stats amount to seasoning roughly equal to two seasons as a No. 1 netminder, coupled with a not-so-shabby 2.20 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.
If he can translate that to a single season as a wholly uncontested starter (Thomas played only two fewer regular-season games in 2009-10), Bruins buffs will experience an easy transition.
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Khabibulin, to dip into Monty Python lexicon, might not be completely finished, but it would be more logical to see the workload stray much farther from 50-50 in favor of Dubnyk.
How far he can progress from a 2.67 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and a personal .500 record will be another matter for at least one year.
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Journeyman Mathieu Garon barely got the better of the washed-up Dwayne Roloson in 2011-12, getting the majority of the workload for only the third time in his NHL career with a third different team out of six.
He might be forced to earn it in the early going, but most likely will have played the better part of the schedule by season’s end.
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If he is dealt, then Luongo's new team could naturally be thrown in as a candidate for a new starter. But even if Luongo remains in Vancouver, Cory Schneider just might have to supplant him as the starter anyway.
After his colleague allowed seven goals on 64 shots (.891 save percentage) in the first two games of the series, Schneider allowed only four on 101 shots (.961 save percentage) in the next three. This coming after Luongo had an identical .891 save percentage in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals while Schneider repelled 95.1 percent of what he faced.
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Michal Neuvirth, who backed up Tomas Vokoun in the 2011-12 regular season, will seek to replenish something more along the lines of his 2010-11 status (48 games played).
One of the only two guarantees here is an entertaining internal footrace to woo new head coach Adam Oates. That could take a whole week or a whole year to decide and could end with one youngster playing 60-plus games or something more to the effect of the Brian Elliott-Jaraslav Halak collaboration in St. Louis.
The other guarantee, of course, is that last year’s No. 1 starter, Vokoun, will not be retaining that title with the Caps.