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Ullmark Trade Will Have Historic Implications On Bruins And Rest Of NHL

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AP Photo/Charles Krupa

There’s been plenty of speculation over the last year or so, and yet, it isn’t certain what the Boston Bruins will receive in return when they likely trade goalie Linus Ullmark this offseason. What is, however, is that if and when the move is eventually made, it will have implications of historic proportions both for the Bruins organization and the rest of the National Hockey League.

In a vacuum, the idea of moving Ullmark is preposterous. After all, it was only a year ago that he won the Vezina Trophy after serving as the backbone behind the single-best regular season by a team in the history of the league. But following the emergence of Jeremy Swayman this past season, it now behooves the Bruins to sell Ullmark as he enters the final year of his contract.

Still, the potential deal comes with very little precedent. In the salary cap era, only twice has a recent Vezina finalist been traded.

After finishing second in the Vezina Trophy voting the prior season, Ben Bishop entered the 2016-17 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning set up for a huge payday with one year left on his contract. But with little-known goalie prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy coming up the pipeline, Tampa was afforded the ability to flip Bishop at that year’s trade deadline to the Los Angeles Kings for Peter Budaj, Erik Cernak and a seventh-round pick in that year’s draft.

The deal turned out to be an absolute steal for the Lightning, as Cernak turned into a fixture of their back-to-back Stanley Cup runs in 2020 and 2021, along with Vasilevskiy, who has remained one of the top goalies in the league since taking over for Bishop in Tampa.

Meanwhile, Bishop’s time in Los Angeles was short-lived, lasting all of 72 days. He ended up appearing in just seven games for the Kings and was sent to Dallas at the end of that year, where he signed a six-year contract with the Stars worth $29.5 million. All the Kings received in return was a fourth-round pick.

Still, that’s more than what the Vegas Golden Knights got back for Marc-André Fleury when they traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks two days before he won the Vezina back in 2021.

As stunning as it was for the Golden Knights to trade away Fleury after he had essentially been the face of their franchise since its inception, they had almost no choice but to make the move as it created $7 million in cap space that they desperately needed that summer. In return, Vegas got back defense prospect Mikael Hakkarainen, who never cracked an NHL roster and is now retired from professional hockey.

What separates Boston’s current situation with Ullmark from those two is that there is nothing immediately forcing the Bruins to make a move at the current moment. Make no mistake, the Bruins should be inclined to trade Ullmark. However, they don’t need to be in a rush.

According to CapFriendly, the Bruins enter the offseason with $20.9 million in available cap space, which is the most of any team that is currently meeting the cap’s lower limit. That gives them enough room to make at least one splash move this offseason, along with others to fill out the rest roster.

Not to mention, Ullmark still has a full season left on his contract. It’s not as if he’s unhappy with his role, either, as he and Swayman continue to have a strong working relationship on the ice as well as a close friendship off of it.

In theory, those factors should only drive the price even higher in a bidding war that’s already taking place to among teams interested in acquiring Ullmark.

For now, the Bruins can sit back, let teams come to them and submit their best offer trade offer. Once they decide on one to accept, we’ll learn just how much a former Vezina finalist is truly worth.

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