Veteran goaltender Jaroslav Halak and the Boston Bruins are officially parting ways. Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, confirmed to The Boston Globe’s Matt Porter that Halak will reach unrestricted free agency on July 28 and the Bruins are not expected to be a suitor. The news really should not come as much of a surprise. It’s the dawn of a new day in net in Boston, as young goaltenders Jeremy Swayman and Daniel Vladar have been excellent in both the NHL and AHL and look ready to take on regular NHL roles. Swayman in fact took the Boston backup job from Halak over the course of this season and into the postseason. The 2020 Hobey Baker finalist and Mike Richter Award and 2021 AHL All-Star has already shown flashes of NHL starting potential and could secure the role this season. Vladar, who led the AHL in save percentage and GAA in 2019-20, requires waivers this season, so he too looks locked into an NHL role. Between that duo and Tuukka Rask, who will be sidelined until mid-season but is still a candidate for extension, Halak had no place with the Bruins. With that said, there should be plenty of suitors out there. Halak was an ideal Robin to Rask’s Batman over the past three years, taking on a considerable workload and playing at an elite level, winning the Jennings Trophy with Rask in 2019-20. The 36-year-old has shown signs of decline in the past calendar year, but can still be an above average backup for a contender or a 1B mentor to a young 1A.
Elsewhere around the hockey world:
- Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin is less than two weeks away from reaching unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career but in an interview with Match TV’s Pavel Lysenkov, he expressed confidence that he will be able to reach an agreement to remain with Washington. He also acknowledged the possibility of returning to Dynamo Moscow in the KHL for next season which suggests that a new deal with the Caps isn’t finalized and is simply waiting until after the expansion draft to be filed as many expect will happen with several UFAs next week. Ovechkin has been adamant about his desire to play in the Olympics and with there still being uncertainty about whether NHL players will participate in 2022, going to the KHL would guarantee him the chance to participate. Having said that, a return to Washington still is the expected outcome.
- Former NHL center Mikko Koivu has found his first coaching opportunity as Ilta Sanomat’s Tatu Mullykoski relays that the 38-year-old has been named an assistant coach for Finland’s Under-20 team (their World Junior squad). He replaces Tuomo Ruutu who became part of Florida’s coaching staff earlier this summer. Koivu spent the first 15 years of his career with Minnesota before joining Columbus for this past season. However, he hung up his skates after seven games with the Blue Jackets.
- Pending UFA winger Charles Hudon is looking to return to North America, notes TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie (Twitter link). The 27-year-old opted not to re-sign with Montreal as a restricted free agent and instead spent the season with Lausanne in Switzerland where he had 32 points in 33 games this past season. Hudon has 41 points in 125 games over parts of five seasons with the Canadiens.