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2011-12 Boston Bruins Player Report Cards: Anton Khudobin

Ohai Dobby!
Ohai Dobby!

It's difficult to judge Anton Khudobin on his performance this year, as he has only one NHL game in a Bruins uniform under his belt. However, considering his importance going forward, it's probably necessary to evaluate what he's looked like so far and where he projects to be going. Khudobin thrives when given healthy competition, and the threat of Niklas Svedberg looming in his rearview mirror might be enough to push him up over the edge from decent AHL starter to competent NHL backup.

Khudobin, nicknamed "Dobby," was acquired at the deadline last year (2011) for Mikko Lehtonen and Jeff Penner; Lehtonen is currently playing overseas, and Penner was sent to Houston. Khudobin was immediately assigned to Providence.

Upon his acquisition, the P-Bruins, who had been struggling mightily all season (young defence corps, injuries, poor goaltending) seemed to turn it around. In their 19 remaining games, they went 12-6-1, with Khudobin attaining a 9-4-1 record. (Michael Hutchinson, who had backed up in Providence all year, went 3-2). Although the P-Bruins missed playoffs, things seemed pretty good - since Tuukka Rask was promoted to Boston, Providence had been stuck with a mediocre prospect (Hutchinson/Matt Dalton/Adam Courchaine) + a shoddy veteran (Nolan Schaefer/Dany Sabourin) as a tandem for the better part of two years, and had missed playoffs both seasons. Now finally it seemed they had someone they could work with and develop, someone with limited NHL experience who was still young and develop-able.

The 2011-2012 season didn't go exactly as expected; still watery up front and on the blueline, and struggling under new coach Bruce Cassidy, the P-Bruins went a disappointing 35-34-0-7. Down the stretch, their goal wasn't even playoffs after February, but simply to claw back above .500. Khudobin managed a 21-19-3 record, but also struggled with a wrist injury that kept him out several weeks.

Only four games after coming back, Khudobin got his first callup to Boston (aside from his work as a Black Ace in the 2011 playoffs) on March 30th. He made his Bruins debut on April 5 against Ottawa, where he posted 44 saves and only allowed one goal by Jason Spezza. Interestingly enough, his competition down at the other end of the ice was Ben Bishop, who's had a professional career similar to Khudobin's - both went pro in 07-08, both were stuck in systems where they weren't quite good enough or high enough on the goalie prospect depth chart to make the NHL on a regular basis, then both were traded to teams where their ranking rose considerably.

Khudobin posted a 0.919 sv% and 2.61 GAA in 44 games last season, both fairly average stats for the AHL. It will definitely be interesting to see how he does with a good team in front of him, especially a defense that is significantly more competitive at its level than the defense in Providence. Considering he was called up to be a backup down the stretch, and won his single start, I don't see how we can give him any grade but this one.

Grade: A