Could the Boston Bruins wind up trading goalie Linus Ullmark this offseason?
According to a source who is a former NHL Executive, the Bruins entertained trade talks for Ullmark last offseason but elected to keep the goalie they signed to a four-year, $20 million ($5M AAV) back in the 2021 offseason.
“Teams called on Ullmark last summer and I can tell you that they at least listened to trade offers on Ullmark because the team I was working for then was one of the teams calling on him,” the source told Boston Hockey Now on Tuesday morning. “We figured why not try after he had a shaky playoff series and they had Swayman on the rise with his contract up this offseason. Ullmark is at a doable cap hit for most teams. I could see him moved this offseason.”
While it seems crazy to think that if they didn’t move Linus Ullmark last offseason, they would now reverse course and trade the likely 2023 Vezina Trophy winner after he went 40-6-1 with a 1.89 GAA and .938 save percentage. However, his goaltending partner Jeremy Swayman’s successful 2022-23 season and age, could make Ullmark expendable. The 24-year-old Swayman went 24-6-4 with a 2.27 GAA and .920 save percentage this season and is set to earn a hefty pay raise as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
The Boston Bruins are about to enter salary cap hell and will more than likely need to create some cap space before the 2023-24 regular season begins. In addition to Swayman, forwards Trent Frederic and Jakub Lauko are also restricted free agents. In addition to those three contracts, forwards Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek, Garnet Hathaway, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Chris Wagner are all set to become unrestricted free agents, as are defensemen Connor Clifton and Dmitry Orlov.
Even with some or all of those cap hits coming off the books, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney still has to ice a 23-man roster and spend against the cap doing so. He will also have to deal with salary cap bonus overages from the then-team-friendly contracts that Bergeron ($2.5 million in bonus money), and Krejci ($2 million in bonus money), signed last offseason.
15 Teams incurred Performance Bonus overages from this year which will be a bonus carryover cap hit for 23-24.#NHLBruins lead the way with a $4.5M bonus overage #FueledbyPhilly & #GoHabsGo next with $1.1M+
Check out full list and recap:https://t.co/pDj3rCo0Lz
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) April 21, 2023
What’s ironic about the quote form the source above is that he said one of the reasons his former team inquired about Ullmark last summer was that they figured the Bruins may be willing to part with Ullmark after the goalie was ‘shaky’ in the seven-game first-round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Well, ‘shaky’ might be an understatement to describe Ullmark’s performance in the recent first-round seven-game series loss to the Florida Panthers. Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery had to switch to Swayman for Game 7 after Ullmark went 3-3 with a 3.33 GAA and .896 save percentage in the first six games. So, combined with a report of the 29-year-old goalie dealing with a ‘debilitating and painful’ injury hamper and his 16-team no-trade clause, hamper his NHL trade value?
“That depends if that injury can be corrected with surgery, I would think,” the aforementioned source said. “If his health isn’t an issue, I don’t think teams are going to let the playoff performance completely rule him out as a goalie option. Also, he is the likely reigning Vezina winner, so he will have value. If I’m the Bruins, I definitely explore it, and don’t forget they got the kid in Providence coming too.”
The kid in Providence is 24-year-old Brandon Bussi, who went 22-5-4 with a 2.40 GAA and .924 save percentage in the AHL this season.
Could the Bruins go with a Swayman-Bussi tandem next season?
Buckle up for an interesting Boston Bruins offseason.