Don’t expect the Boston Bruins to be active on the NHL trade market before the NHL’s Holiday Roster freeze kicks in at 11:59 p.m. local tonight.
In fact, while there has been an increase in NHL trade chatter over the last week, all 32 NHL teams are expected to stand pat until at least after the roster freeze expires at 12:01 a.m. local on Dec. 28.
The NHL's Holiday Roster Freeze begins tonight at 11:59 p.m. local and runs through 12:01 a.m. local on Dec. 28.
No waivers or trades permitted during the holiday period, and only limited circumstances where players can be loaned between the NHL/AHL. pic.twitter.com/OoXKlt5stQ
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 19, 2023
“There’s plenty of teams talking right now, but that’s all it’s going to be for now, it seems,” an NHL executive source told Boston Hockey Now on Tuesday morning. “Once you get to this point right before the freeze, teams really don’t like to send a player packing over the holidays. I know the Bruins are still looking for a D-man and scoring up front, and I’m sure Donny’s [Sweeney] going to keep talking to other GMs.”
That doesn’t mean that NHL trade talks between teams won’t continue through the freeze, and with plenty of teams battling for their playoff lives, could some trades be made when the roster freeze is lifted?
“A lot of teams understand now where they are,” longtime NHL analyst, former head coach, and executive Pierre McGuire pointed out on the latest ‘Eye Test Podcast’ episode on Monday. “Some teams are at the 30-game mark, some are at the 25-game mark, and they’re starting to understand where they are as a group. I would expect that because of the parity in the league, we’re going to see earlier deals than maybe we’ve seen in a very long time.”
Teams like the Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, and the Los Angeles Kings are all in the NHL trade market for goalies, with the Oilers, Devils, and Hurricanes all looking for a 1A or 1B, and the Kings looking strictly for a back-up goalie. One goalie that isn’t getting mentioned in many trade rumors, though, is Boston Bruins goalie and 2023 Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark.
Regular BHN readers may recall that back in early November, two NHL sources shot down a seemingly click-bait rumor created by ESPN NHL analyst John Buccigross.
Ryan, would you trade Draisaitl and Foegele for…last years Vezina winner, DeBrusk, Poitras, Lysell and a 2026 1st rounder? The Central Registry would approved this proposed trade for cap and roster implications. https://t.co/zEIDcAriuZ
— BucciOT.Com (@Buccigross) November 3, 2023
“Hey, anyone can be traded, right? If Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky got dealt, then anyone is fair game,” one NHL executive replied with a laugh. “But right now, I’d say Ullmark’s not going anywhere. Why the hell would Donny mess with what he’s got going on there with Ullmark and Swayman? They are the biggest reason for their amazing start.”
That was pretty much the response from the other NHL executive.
“Are you kidding me with that question?” he asked. “There’s no reason for the Bruins to do that right now, and Buccigross’ tweet proposal was pure clickbait. I read your column, and you were right to point out that even if this proposal or any other became reality, Ullmark’s still probably gotta approve the trade, and as you pointed out, he loves it in Boston. How many people are happy getting traded to Edmonton, especially right now?”
Ullmark still has a 16-team no-trade list, and based on conversations with numerous NHL insiders on Tuesday, the Oilers are likely on that list. Factor in the fact that Ullmark, who was parked in NHL trade rumors throughout the summer, was thrilled he remained with the Bruins for this season, and it’s highly unlikely he’s going to waive anything, especially a trade that sends him across the continent.
“Feels like home,” Ullmark told Boston Hockey Now on October 9 when talking about Boston. “That says a lot about it. Everything surrounding hockey, everything off the ice, everything like that, we know what to expect. We said that when we came in last year, and this year as well, it just feels like home. It’s a great feeling to have and to have the security, and also for the kids and my wife too, to feel the same too.”
Given the fact the Bruins continue to rely heavily on Ullmark and his hugging partner Jeremy Swayman, the Bruins aren’t expected to break that tandem up unless it was a knock-your-socks-off trade offer which by all accounts has not been and isn’t expected to be offered to them, at least in-season.