Raycroft, the 135th pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, began making a name for himself with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League. During the 1999-00 season, he earned First All-Star Team honors as well as OHL/CHL Goaltender of the Year.
He would debut during the 2000-01 season, getting his first NHL win but going just 4-6-0. Spending the next two seasons with Providence of the AHL, Raycroft began to make his mark, going 23-10-3 for the baby Bruins in 2002-03 before finally getting his shot with the big club the following season.
Raycroft, seeing action in 57 games, would not disappoint. Going 29-18-9 with a 2.05 GAA and .926 save percentage, Raycroft would find himself in the NHL YoungStars Game and on the NHL All-Rookie Team. More importantly than that, he became the eighth (and last to this day) Boston Bruin to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year.
The other Bruins on that list? Frank Brimsek (1939), Jack Gelineau (1950), Larry Regan (1957), Bobby Orr (1967), Derek Sanderson (1968), Ray Bourque (1980), and Sergei Samsonov (1997). Anytime you find yourself on a list with Bobby Orr, Frank Brimsek, and Ray Bourque, you know you’ve done well for yourself.
With the league locked out for the 2004-05 season, he signed with Djurgarden of the Swedish Elitserien League in November of 2004 but never played for them, signing with Tappara Tampere of the Finnish SM-liiga in January of 2005.
Coming back from the lockout, he struggled badly. A healthy scratch for most of the year, he managed just eight wins and was demoted to third-strong behind the emerging Tim Thomas and rookie backup Hannu Toivonen.
In the off-season, Raycroft was dealt to Toronto in what has become a horribly lopsided deal. He was traded for the rights to Finnish goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask, selected 21st overall in 2005.
At the time, it didn’t look so bad considering Raycroft tied a Leafs’ franchise record for most wins by a goaltender in the regular season during 2006-07, racking up 37 en route to tying Ed Belfour. Despite this, he finished 49th in GAA and 56th in save percentage and the Leafs missed the playoffs.
He struggled again coming out of the gates during 2007-08 and ended up being supplanted by Vesa Toskala before being bought out during the summer of 2008. His career in Toronto basically amounted to this:
Raycroft would sign a free-agent deal with the Vancouver Canucks in 2009, backing up Roberto Luongo after beating out prospect Cory Schneider in camp. His greatest moment in a Vancouver sweater would come, ironically enough, in Toronto where he gleefully celebrated a win in his old stomping grounds:
An unsuccessful stint with Dallas and their AHL-affiliate would see Raycroft sign with Italian Serie A club Milano Rossoblu. They appeared to be more excited about his arrival than any of his NHL stops, via Google Translate:
“The dawn of a new era: Andrew ‘Razor’ Raycroft between the poles of Milan
And ‘officially the dawn of a new era.
Ladies and gentlemen, the new lands of the Milan goalie, and there is much to rub his eyes in luggage loaded into the hold has just under 300 appearances in the NHL, in a hand trolley Calder Memorial Trophy.”
From Calder winner to unintentionally funny press release, it’s been quite the ride for the 32-year-old netminder.
For Andrew Raycroft, being called a “flash in the pan” might be a compliment consider how things turned out for him but for the rest of his life, he’ll be able to brag about having his name on the same trophy as Bobby Orr.
That’s more than most players could hope for.
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