Did the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets, and Anaheim Ducks overestimate the NHL trade market for goalies?
On the eve of their arbitration hearing with restricted free agent Jeremy Swayman, one has to wonder if the Boston Bruins would be heading into a hearing with Swayman if they had been able to move the 2023 Vezina Trophy Award winner, Linus Ullmark, on the NHL trade market earlier this offseason?
Not that this puck scribe thinks that would’ve been the move to make, given the expected departures via the unrestricted free-agent market and the void up the middle that was more than likely coming with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci leaning on retirement. Bergeron retired this past Tuesday, and longtime Boston Bruins center David Krejci is expected to follow suit soon. With those sudden offensive deficiencies in the roster, the Bruins will need to depend on team defense and goaltending, so why would they even consider splitting up the hugging and Jenning Trophy-winning tandem of Ullmark and Swayman?
The salary cap, of course. That same $83.5 Million salary cap is why the Boston Bruins could only submit an offer of $2 million to Jeremy Swayman before the Sunday arbitration hearing. That’s $2.8 million shy of the $4.8 million ask from the Swayman camp of the 24-year-old goalie and his agent Lewis Gross. As numerous sources did leading into the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, and up beyond the July start of NHL free agency, another NHL management source confirmed to Boston Hockey Now that the Bruins did at least gauge the NHL trade market for interest in the 30-year-old Ullmark, who has two years left on his four-year, $20 million ($5M AAV), contract.
This source did not get into what the specific ask for Ullmark was from the Bruins on the NHL trade market but indicated that they, like the Winnipeg Jets with Connor Hellebucyk and the Anaheim Ducks with John Gibson, seemed to think those goalies could net them a 2023 first rounder and more.
“They all got greedy or misread it,” the source opined to BHN. “I just know that sadly for goalies, teams in general now don’t think they need an elite goalie to win the Stanley Cup. Look at Vegas, and one could argue the Avalanche the season before. The thing with Boston and Winnipeg is that they need quality roster players right now. Look at the Bruins at center. If you had asked me, though, I thought at least two of those three goalies would be traded by now.”