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Murphy: Ullmark’s Trade Value Not Known

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NHL Trade

Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is likely learning that there really is no exact science to maximizing the value of a starting goalie on the NHL Trade market. Not even a goalie like Linus Ullmark, who is just under a year removed from winning the 2023 Vezina Trophy winner.

“You take that, and you look at his stats this past season too, and obviously you’d think that he could get the Bruins a first round pick at least, but that’s not always true,” an NHL executive source pointed out to Boston Hockey Now on Wednesday night.

After going an astonishing 40-6-1 with a 1.89 GAA and .938 save percentage in the 2022-23 regular season, Linus Ullmark came back down to earth and went 22-10-7 with a 2.57 GAA and .915 save percentage this past season. Still, the fact that he won a Vezina as recently as last season would lead one to believe the NHL Betting Odds that the soon-to-be 31-year-old (July 31) would still hold value on the NHL trade market are high now and leading into the June 28-29 NHL Entry Draft in Las Vegas before NHL free agency kicks off on July 1.

Unfortunately, that may not be the case for Sweeney as he explores NHL trade options for Ullmark to accommodate an expected pricey contract extension for 25-year-old goalie Jeremy Swayman.

“The goalie market is the trickiest of all,” the aforementioned NHL executive source pointed out. “So many different things at that exact time can dictate the value of the goalie on the market, and many times, it’s in the eyes of the beholder.”

A perfect example of this would be the NHL trade history of future hockey hall-of-famer Marc-Andre Fleury. On June 27, 2021, just two days before Fleury won the 2021 Vezina Trophy, the then 36-year-old netminder was traded by the Vegas Golden Knights to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for then-23-year-old prospect Mikael Hakkarainen. The Finnish center was drafted in the fifth round (139th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Not even a year later and at the next NHL Trade Deadline on March 21, 2022, Fleury was traded to the Minnesota Wild for a conditional 2022 second round pick (upgraded to a 2022 first if Minnesota reaches the Western Conference Final and Fleury has at least 4 wins in first two rounds). The condition was not met, and the Blackhawks used the 57th pick overall at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft to select center Ryan Greene. The irony is that the Blackhawks got a better return for an older Fleury who was average at best up until the trade, going 19-21-5 with a 2.95 GAA and a .908 save percentage.

There have been plenty of NHL trade rumors surrounding Ullmark since the Bruins were bounced from the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 17. One rumor out of Ottawa had the Bruins potentially getting a 2024 first round pick and defenseman Jakob Chychrun from the Senators in exchange for Ullmark. Sportsnet NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman also reported that the Carolina Hurricanes and the Bruins discussed a Ullmark trade, and Friedman speculated whether or not Hurricanes restricted free agent-to-be Martin Necas was part of the discussion or could become part of it if it starts up again.

On Wednesday, 98.5 The Sports Hub Bruins beat reporter Ty Anderson, who I think is one of the best in the biz, and reported that Sweeney would prioritize a first-round pick or a player of similar value. Can the Bruins get that for Ullmark, who is entering the final season of a four-year, $20 million ($5M AAV) contract?

“They could, but they may also just get a third,” the NHL exec source above said. “One thing I’d keep an eye on is if goalies have become more appreciated after the playoffs. I think you need an elite, true No. 1 to make it far. Three of the four goalies left are that. Maybe that increases Ullmark’s value? Then again, what’s Ullmark ever won in the playoffs?”

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