When the Dallas Stars first acquired Kari Lehtonen from Atlanta, the consensus seemed to be that starter Marty Turco would be leaving town in the immediate future. Turco is an unrestricted free agent, a ‘name’ goalie, and the Stars hadn’t picked up Lehtonen so that he could be the backup.
However, the Stars surprised a few people (including me) by putting Alex Auld on waivers, and then on re-entry waivers, with the New York Rangers picking him up when Dallas made the second decision.
For the Rangers, this should stabilize a backup situation that has been in flux for much of the year. Steve Valiquette had the job entering the season, and coming off two fine years in the position there was no reason to believe he couldn’t handle it. However, he struggled mightily; after posting a shutout in his first game he’s been brutal and now sports a 2-3-0 record along with a 0.852 save percentage. Since getting sent to the American Hockey League, Valiquette hasn’t been any better; he has a 4-5-1 record and a 0.877 save percentage.
Given Valiquette’s troubles, the backup job devolved to Chad Johnson, who has taken advantage of the opportunity with a .919 SV% over five games. Johnson’s a first year pro coming off a season where he posted a 0.940 SV% with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and he’s done well in the AHL (.913 SV%) but not only is he new to all of this but he’s also the kind of player who most organizations want getting starts, not warming a bench as a backup.
Auld should bring some stability to the position. He hasn’t been good this season in limited action, but he does have a reasonable track record:
|Season||GP||Save %||EV Save %|
On average, those are decent backup numbers, gusting at times to excellent and dropping off to poor at other times. All in all, however, he’s a capable backup who the Rangers can turn to whenever they need to spell Henrik Lundqvist.