Boston Bruins: 8 Best Goalies to Have Come Through the Providence Pipeline

Al DanielCorrespondent IINovember 7, 2012

Boston Bruins: 8 Best Goalies to Have Come Through the Providence Pipeline

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    With Anton Khudobin the presumptive backup for the foreseeable future, Niklas Svedberg and Michael Hutchinson are at the forefront among goaltenders in the Boston Bruins’ minor league system.

    For what one month of AHL action are worth, Svedberg is a decisive front-runner to be summoned first if and when the parent club returns to action and requires a call-up over the course of its next season. It certainly does not hurt his cause to be drawing more attention from the media and the front office that have been filling their extra time in Providence.

    Both halves of the incumbent tandem in Boston, as well as another recent member who has consciously left his future with the team ambiguous, have followed a two-decade-long precedent of backstopping the Baby B's before regularly occupying the Causeway crease.

    With Khudobin and Svedberg the early favorites to be the next entries, here is a timeline of the best Bruins backstops in the team’s 21-year history of basing its AHL prospects in Providence.

John Blue

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    A holdover from the P-Bruins final days as the Maine Mariners, Blue debuted in Boston during the farm club’s inaugural season in Providence. He logged a sound 14-4-1 record in 19 games for the Baby B's that year and held his own for a 9-8-2 transcript (as well as two assists) in 23 twirls for the parent club.

    His second and final year split between the two Bruins yielded less savory results, but that was likely more a reflection of each team’s drop-off from the preceding season. Both parties had substantially better records in 1992-93 than they did in 1993-94.

Scott Bailey

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    Bailey’s black-and-gold swan song was a come-from-behind upset for Providence against the New England Division champion Worcester Ice Cats in the first round of the 1997 Calder Cup playoffs. The Bruins, who had finished 25 points behind Worcester in the standings, surmounted a 2-0 series deficit to win the best-of-five.

    That helped to cap off Bailey’s four-year relationship with the Bruins, which consisted of 19 appearances with the parent club, a 5-1-2 record in his first NHL season and 127 regular-season games for the P-Bruins.

    And just as it surely did for the collective fanbase, it helped to rinse out the vinegar of Boston’s finish in the very basement of the NHL standings, which was reflected in Bailey’s 1-5-0 record in The Show that year.

Rob Tallas

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    A member of the Bruins for all of his first six professional seasons, Tallas took a break from his first full AHL campaign to win his first and only NHL start in 1995-96.

    He split the next two years more evenly between each level, then landed a permanent backup gig in Boston for 1998-99 and 1999-2000. His progression was likely helped by the fact that, albeit in a fairly shallow pool of 14 games played, he posted a team-best 1.83 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 1997-98, ahead of Byron Dafoe and Jim Carey.

John Grahame

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    Grahame’s 146 career regular-season and 49 playoff games remain the most among any Providence backstop. He owes the latter statistic, in part, to himself.

    After helping the P-Bruins to a historic run to the Calder Cup in 1999, Grahame played the better part of two more runs to the AHL semifinals. He was particularly clutch in the 2001 tournament, winning six straight elimination games before losing what would be his last twirl in Providence attire against the eventual champions from Saint John.

    For the next year and a half, Grahame had a steady job as Boston’s backup, a role in which he went 29-30-5 overall, but 19-16-4 during his final two seasons with the team.

Andrew Raycroft

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    He has not been the same since the last lockout. By the same token, Raycroft was certainly something over the course of three seasons split between Providence and Boston and his first full season in The Show that culminated in the 2004 Calder Trophy.

    After his 23-10-3 run helped the P-Bruins to first place in the North Division in 2002-03, Raycroft graduated and similarly helped Boston finish first in the Northeast Division in 2003-04. Along the way, he finished fifth among NHL netminders in save percentage, sixth in goals-against average and 10th in cumulative wins.

Hannu Toivonen

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    While stats are relative to the era a goalie has played in, even somewhat proximate eras like the 90s and 2000s, Toivonen has easily had two of the best single seasons in P-Bruins history.

    The go-to starter in Providence during the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Toivonen retained a 2.05 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in 54 appearances. That was his follow-up on a 2003-04 log consisting of 36 appearances, a 2.30 GAA and .921 save percentage.

    When the NHL resumed normal business, Toivonen saw action only in Boston the following year and then split 2006-07 almost evenly between the two leagues before he was traded in July 2007.

Tim Thomas

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    Only Thomas has bested Toivonen in the way of single-season output with the P-Bruins. He took the better half of the workload in 2003-04 and charged up a 1.84 GAA with a .941 save percentage.

    Furthermore, Thomas has since played more regular-season (378) and playoff (50) games for Boston than any other Providence goaltending product. And then there is that little matter of a trophy case consisting of two Vezinas, a Conn Smythe and a Prince of Wales and Stanley Cup victory each bolstered by back-to-back Game 7 shutouts.

Tuukka Rask

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    The compensation for Raycroft and the man who partially ushered Toivonen out, Rask has logged exactly 102 regular-season games apiece with each Bruins team through his first five seasons in the organization.

    His first impression in North America in 2007-08 will likely be used as a measuring pole for Svedberg by pundits and fans this season. In 45 AHL games that year, Rask went 27-13-2 to backstop the P-Bruins’ first divisional title since 2003 and first regular-season crown since 1998-99.

    After following up with a 33-20-4 record and taking Providence to the third round of the 2009 Calder Cup playoffs, Rask garnered a permanent promotion.