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Murphy: For Now, Ullmark, Bruins Move Past NHL Trade Deadline

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Boston Bruins starting goalie, Linus Ullmark, Jeremy Swayman

Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark made a statement on Saturday with a brilliant 39-save performance to lead the Bruins past the rudderless Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1.

Neither Linus Ullmark nor Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has confirmed nor denied the various reports that the 2023 Vezina Trophy winner vetoed a trade – to what’s believed to be a Western Conference team – that Boston Hockey Now and numerous outlets reported.

“I’m just very happy to be here. This is the team that I want to be on,” Ullmark replied when asked to confirm or deny the reports dominating hockey social media since early Friday afternoon. “I’m very fortunate to be a part of this group, and ever since Day One, I’ve loved it here. So, I’m very happy with where I am right now.”

 

 

This came just over 24 hours after Sweeney told the media this in his post-NHL Trade Deadline press conference:

“I mean, at the end of the day, I’m never going to get into a conversation with what I may have talked to Linus about,” Sweeney said. “I acknowledge we’ve explored different situations and we had opportunities to move different players, but I’m not getting into the, you know, the intricacies of what, what’s in somebody’s contract at this point in time.”

 

 

It’s crystal clear now that if Ullmark has a say in the matter, he will remain with the Boston Bruins until his current four-year, $20 million contract expires after next season. After an extremely emotional week, Ullmark was relieved and grateful that he was still a Bruin.

“Oh, thank God, yes,” Ullmark exclaimed when asked if he was happy this past week was over. “It’s tough. I mean, you try to act tough beforehand. You don’t want to show any emotion. It’s kind of like in a playoff situation. But it is tough on players, and this is the first time I had to go through actually being rumored about. I’ve always felt safe. But then once it actually starts picking up more and more and more, you hear those outside noises, it takes a toll on you, and then there’s this emotional part of it, and then you start thinking about your family, and then there’s all these questions that you don’t have any answers to. So yes, I am very happy that it’s over with and I’m very glad and happy to be here.”

On his weekly second intermission segment on ‘NHL Headlines’ on Hockey Night In Canada, Sportsnet NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman discussed that.

“Ullmark I heard behind the scenes this week was very emotional,” Friedman told host Ron McLean. “It was a very hard week for him. He did not want to leave Boston. He wanted to stay with the Bruins, and as we all know now, there was a team that was on his no-trade list, which he did not waive. That is his right. That is his contractual right.”

As has been reported here for the last two weeks, if Sweeney found a suitor not on Ullmark’s current 16-team no-trade clause that presented the right NHL trade offer for his best NHL trade chip heading into Friday’s 3 p.m. NHL Trade Deadline, Ullmark was likely holding court in a different NHL city and for a different NHL team early Saturday evening. As Friedman also reported, it’s clear now that Sweeney will try to do the same in the offseason.

 

 

“However, I think there’s a second part of this,” Friedman explained. “I do believe the Bruins as well, had conversations with some of the teams that he cannot block a trade to, and those teams did not occur, but I think in a couple of cases, they were punted into the offseason. So, I think this is going to be something that is going to pick up again after the season, but right now, the Bruins obviously couldn’t get anything done, and we’re in a situation where we’re going to see where this goes after the season is over.”

So for now, the Bruins and Ullmark are stuck with each other, and given Ullmark’s performance on Saturday in the face of such adversity and coming off six straight losses – but five of which were in extra time – maybe that’s not such a bad thing until the offseason. It also can’t hurt that Jeremy Swayman’s hugging partner remains his teammate as Sweeney tries to lock down a contract extension with the goalie he plans to turn the team over to whenever Ullmark is no longer a Bruin.

 

 

However, not only is Ullmark beloved by Swayman, but he is truly beloved by all his teammates and his coach.

“He was our best player. It wasn’t close,” Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said postgame and then went into a wide grin and said: “I’m glad he’s still a Bruin.”

In the eyes of this puck scribe, while a Ullmark trade would’ve freed up cap space for Sweeney heading into the deadline, it could have had negative ripple effects in the dressing room of a team that might be rounding back into form at just the right time. Sweeney will get his chance in the offseason; for now, reap the benefits of a great teammate and a player who loves being a Bruin.

 

 

 

 

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