The San Jose Sharks filled an organizational need in net, and signed goaltender Antoine Bibeau to a one-year, two-way contract, the team announced today.
Bibeau, a 2013 sixth round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs, did not receive a qualifying offer from the Leafs prior to the June 26 deadline and became an unrestricted free agent. The 23-year-old goaltender spent the last three seasons in Toronto’s system, and played 103 games for the Marlies, the team’s AHL affilate. He played two games in the NHL this past season, going 1-1-0 with a .927 save percentage on 55 shots.
"We're excited to have Antoine Bibeau join our already strong goaltending stable," Sharks Assistant General Manager Joe Will said in a statement. "He adds tremendous depth at an important position, has an incredible amount of American Hockey League experience for such a young man, and has proven he can play at the NHL level."
He will likely slide into the Barracuda’s backup spot vacated by goaltender Mantas Armalis. The Sharks did not extend Armalis a qualifying offer, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Armalis posted an .885 save percentage with the Barracuda last season, which is far off from Bibeau’s career .906 in the AHL.
Bibeau won the QMJHL’s playoff MVP award and was named the Memorial Cup’s most outstanding goaltender in his final season in junior, but has not been able to consistently replicate those highs. When Bibeau performed well in his two-game NHL stint, Katya Knappe at sister blog Pension Plan Puppets warned Leafs fans to keep expectations low:
It is possible, with Bibeau’s good-enough play in the AHL and his few months less time on earth than [fellow Marlies goaltender Garret] Sparks, to imagine he might be more someday than he is now. He isn’t more now. He is, right now, an acceptable AHL goalie on his good days who performed poorly for the Leafs in preseason games.
Bibeau’s save percentage on the Marlies is good enough for 32nd among goalies who have played at least 360 minutes. That makes him a borderline AHL backup. Giving him the benefit of the doubt due to his slightly higher career totals, he could be an okay AHL starter on a team that doesn’t need amazing goaltending to win.
Given Grosenick’s emergence last season and the Barracuda’s need for his backup, this seems like a low-risk move that could help rejuvenate Bibeau’s career. Even if it doesn’t, it will at least ensure the Sharks have an experienced goaltender sitting fourth on their organizational depth chart for next season.