by PuckStopsHere on 03/08/12 at 12:55 AM ET
The Boston Bruins have arguably the best goaltending in the NHL. Tim Thomas is a two time Vezina Trophy winner in 2009 and 2011. In the year between Thomas’s victories, Tuukka Rask, his backup, posted the top saves percentage in the league. In fact a Boston goalie has had the top saves percentage in the league in each of the last three seasons. When Rask suffered a lower body injury and will miss four to six weeks, which looks like the rest of the regular season and likely the beginning of the playoffs, there was a chink in their armour. The Bruins solution is to sign Marty Turco.
Turco played in Salzburg, Austria this season. In order to return to the NHL he had to clear re-entry waivers. Historically players in this situation do not clear re-entry waivers. The most famous recent case is Evgeni Nabokov who signed with Detroit when he returned to the NHL from the KHL and was claimed by the New York Islanders on waivers. It sets up a pointless situation where the team that signs the player will not keep him as he will be claimed by another team.
Boston got him through the waiver process. Since they signed the player after the trade deadline then he cannot play in the playoffs this season. Turco isn’t a particularly good NHL goalie anymore. He put up a poor .897 saves percentage last year and is not getting any younger. A season in Austria doesn’t expose him to top competition. Perhaps a Boston rival could chose to claim Turco just to prevent Boston from getting him, but Turco is not an upgrade in goal to almost any team. There isn’t much point in claiming a goalie who is worse than your current pair of goalies.
Boston will likely play Tim Thomas in most of the games down the stretch. Marty Turco will likely play in few games. Were Turco claimed by another team, the Bruins would likely call up Anton Khudobin from the AHL. In his short NHL trial last year he played acceptably. It is entirely possible that he is no worse than Turco. In fact, it is believable that another team claiming Turco would not hurt the Bruins.
Re-entry waivers for players returning from Europe during the season is a poor rule. It prevents NHL capable players from returning to the NHL during a season. However it looks like a loophole has been found. You can sign a player (even a big enough name player that most fans know him well) as long as he is no longer much of an NHL player. Marty Turco played below the replacement level in goal last season. Why would another team be interested in that? In fact Boston may have chosen a weaker goalie than they otherwise had in their system by signing Marty Turco.
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