Usually, every season, we have goaltenders that take a step forward and a step backward. We see guys elevate themselves into starter roles, and other guys take the backburner due to struggles of their own. Here are five goalies heading into this season as backups that I could see becoming starters by the end of the year.
Pavel Francouz – Colorado Avalanche
As of right now, it’s looking like the newly acquired Alexandar Georgiev will be the starting goaltender for Colorado heading into this season. However, I anticipate that this could quickly change due to Georgiev’s inconsistent track record.
Georgiev played for a great team in New York City last season but struggled to find any consistency in his game. While I think he has the tools to be a solid tandem guy, I don’t see him ever being a starting goaltender. That being said, I don’t see Pavel Francouz as a starter either, but of the two goaltenders, he is better, he’s just been stunted by injuries and Darcy Kuemper being ahead of him in the depth charts.
Arvid Soderblom – Chicago Blackhawks
As of right now, it looks like Soderblom may be the third-string goalie in Chicago, but I anticipate him to elevate quickly in the depth charts as the season progresses, and think we could see him as the starter by the All-Star break.
We all know Petr Mrazek struggles due to injuries, and Alex Stalock isn’t some coveted goaltender that is locked in at number-two. Soderblom had a lot of hype coming out of Europe and I think he’ll get all the opportunities to have a chance at stealing the job.
Jeremy Swayman – Boston Bruins
Jeremy Swayman is one of my favourite young goaltending talents in the NHL right now, and I think he should already be the starting goaltender in Boston.
I know it’s hard for Boston to justify that after the money they threw at Linus Ullmark, but I really feel like that signing was unnecessary to begin with when you have a talent like Swayman waiting for an opportunity.
As the Bruins try to stay competitive while the East gets better, they’ll need to make some tough decisions, and that may start with giving Swayman more leeway.
Vitek Vanecek – New Jersey Devils
Vitek Vanecek didn’t have a great season with Washington last year, but if there was anywhere that was a good fit for a fresh start for him, it was New Jersey.
New Jersey improved their team this offseason and should see an improvement on their defensive statistics overall. While Vanecek is currently number-two on the depth charts, we know that MacKenzie Blackwood has had issues with consistency and staying healthy, which could both lead to Vanecek getting more opportunities to shine in net.
It’s often forgotten that Vanecek was once drafted to be a future number-one guy, and while he has been limited to a tandem guy so far, don’t be surprised if the move to New Jersey takes him to the next level.
Cal Petersen – Los Angeles Kings
I know that fans in Los Angeles are much higher on Petersen than I am so they may be glad to this one here.
I think Jonathan Quick is still the man in the crease heading into this season, but with the money that LA committed to Petersen, they want him to play, no doubt about it. If Quick goes on a rough stretch or gets hurt, it’s Petersen’s net again.