In the 2015 NHL draft, the Boston Bruins used the 75th overall pick on goaltender Dan Vladar.
Since joining the Bruins, Vladar has had high expectations but been held back by injuries and inconsistent play. Next season, however, Vladar may have a shot at the NHL. Jaroslav Halak is set to become a free agent this summer and Vladar is coming off his best season since being drafted.
Last year was one to forget for Vladar as his first full season in Providence was a struggle. The former third-round pick appeared in 31 games and had a save percentage of .898. He allowed 2.73 goals a game and failed to record a shutout after recording four the year before.
Here’s Dan Vladar making the sprawling, desperation save as he’s dead to rights on the PK tonight. Vladar is big and tall, but he moves with purpose and efficiency in the crease. He’s also very athletic and has the potential to be a starter in the NHL. #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/EXHGUxFiEF
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) November 2, 2018
Despite Vladar’s struggles, he looked like a completely different goalie this past season. In 25 games, Vladar had three shutouts with a goals-against-average of 1.79. The Czech native had a save percentage of .936 and finished the season with a 14-7-1 record. Before the season was suspended, he had made 614 saves and only allowed 42 goals.
Vladar also appeared in one game for the Atlanta Gladiators, where he allowed two goals and came away with the victory.
Before the season was put on hold, Providence was in the midst of their best campaign in years. Max Legace, who appeared in more games than Vladar for Providence, had a save percentage of .919. Although Vladar appeared in eight fewer games, his strong season, was a reassuring sign to Bruins management after his struggles the year before.
— Boston Bruins on CLNS (@BruinsCLNS) September 24, 2019
Although the 2020-2021 season is months away, the Bruins can feel comfortable about their goalie depth given Vladar’s play. The 22-year-old has great vision and moves around well in the crease. He uses his frame as an advantage and this past season became the goalie many scouts projected him to be.
With Halak’s impending free agency, the Bruins may need a new backup goalie next season. Halak is expected to be a popular name, on the free-agent market and Max Legace will also need a new deal. While Vladar will also be looking for a new contract, he will only be a restricted free agent meaning the Bruins can match any offer another team makes him.
Furthermore, this past season showed that Vladar can handle adversity. The Bruins netminder had the highest save percentage and lowest goals-against average in the AHL. With training camp only months away, the young goaltender will look to build off his impressive season, earning a spot in the NHL.