From now until the beginning of training camp, Boston Hockey Now is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2022-23 Boston Bruins. Today’s player: Linus Ullmark.
What Happened Last Year: Ullmark, 29, had a solid first season in Boston after signing a four-year contract in free agency and formed a solid two-man goaltending tandem with rookie Jeremy Swayman. Ullmark got off to a slow start at his new NHL spot while he got used to his surroundings but stepped up his game alternating strong stretches with Swayman for the rest of the season.
Ullmark finished with a 2.45 goals against average and a .917 save percentage and played well enough down the stretch that he earned the Game 1 start in Boston’s first round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes. As a tandem, the Boston Bruins duo of Ullmark and Swayman finished fourth in the NHL with a 2.66 goals against average and eighth in the league with a combined .913 save percentage.
They also survived as a duo when it looked like the Bruins were trying to push Tuukka Rask on the scene as both young goalies were unproven in the playoffs. As it turned out both Ullmark and Swayman got vital experience in the postseason and charmed the hockey world with their celebratory goalie hugs following victories.
Something about Swayman and Ullmark’s post win hugs that just make us smile.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) March 22, 2022
Questions To Be Answered This Season: The biggest question with Ullmark is just how much better he can get as he enters his prime years as an NHL goalie and whether he could ever wrest the No. 1 job for himself. The guess here is that Swayman will be the No. 1 goalie of the future for the Black and Gold, and that his ascendance to that spot should happen within the next couple of seasons.
That leaves Ullmark as the steady, experienced goalie partner that has the credentials to be a 50/50 duo with Swayman for now and could take things to another level as he continues to gain comfort and confidence in Boston. One big, burning question is whether the 6-foot-4, 209-pound Ullmark could ever stay healthy enough to shoulder a true No. 1 goalie workload after injuries hampered him in Buffalo just as much as a lackluster team around him did most of the time.
But we may never learn the answer to this question in Boston with Swayman around for at least half the workload
In Their Words: “If they ask me to play, I will play. If it’s Sway, they want to play then I will be there for him and back him up.” –Linus Ullmark on sharing the workload with his victory hug buddy Jeremy Swayman.
Overall Outlook: After some unrest about the four-year, $20 million contract given to Ullmark by the Boston Bruins last summer, things settled pretty nicely for Ullmark and Swayman as a two-man puck-stopping team. The hope is that can continue for the next couple of seasons with the B’s paying out much less money for goalies now than they did for the likes of Rask and Jaroslav Halak a couple of seasons ago.
The question becomes how much better the two of them can get it and how long the two can co-exist once Swayman earns himself a bigger contract coming out of his entry-level deal. But for next season there should be even more of Ullmark and Swayman stopping pucks, hugging each other after wins and becoming a very solid two-man team that feels a lot different than the last decade when Tuukka Rask was the unquestioned No. 1 netminder for Boston. The only time the goalie duo might become cumbersome is playoff action when both goaltenders clearly would like their number called, but that’s a pretty good problem to have if you’re the Boston Bruins.