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Linus Ullmark acknowledges that union with Jeremy Swayman and Bruins may not continue

Golden Knights broadcaster Dave Goucher weighs in on Cassidy winning Stanley Cup
Golden Knights broadcaster Dave Goucher weighs in on Cassidy winning Stanley Cup 02:14

BOSTON -- For all intents and purposes, the Boston Bruins had a perfect goaltending situation a year ago.

With a stable veteran manning the crease at a reasonable $5 million cap hit and a rising young netminder seizing a 1B role at a cap hit under $1 million, the Bruins had the best goaltending situation in the entire league. Linus Ullmark will (almost certainly) win a Vezina Trophy on Monday night, and he and Jeremy Swayman have already secured the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the NHL last season.

But of course, the ideal scenario blew up in the postseason, and the idyllic situation may blow up in the offseason.

With the Bruins facing a serious salary cap crunch, and with Swayman due for a large pay raise as a restricted free agent, something's gotta give. And Ullmark, when speaking to the media ahead of the NHL Awards, acknowledged that it's possible that the union at play with himself, Swayman and the Bruins may not be able to make it another year.

"It's crossed my mind, yeah. I mean, I'm not going to lie, that's the business part of it. That's what we live in," Ullmark said of the possibility, per The Boston Globe's Jim McBride. "When you have two goalies that are so close when it comes to stat-wise, there's got to be some changes, probably. And hopefully, like I think, for both of us, that we both want to be together and we want to stay in Boston because that's where we thrive and you see the success that we've had and we've just got to see, you know, there's -- there's a personal side to it and there's a business side to it and you've got to honor it. That's just how being a professional hockey player is."  

Ullmark signed his deal with the Bruins in the summer of 2021, a four-year pact worth $20 million for a $5 million annual cap hit. That deal included a full no-move clause for the first two years, with a modified no-trade clause for years three and four. This year, Ullmark is allowed to have a 16-team no-trade list, while the final year drops that number to 15, per CapFriendly.

His outstanding play and reasonable salary (he has the 13th-highest cap hit among goalies for the upcoming season) make him a candidate to be traded for a Bruins team that currently has less than $5 million in cap space and has some gaping holes in its forward group. Such a trade could end up reflecting poorly on GM Don Sweeney if Ullmark builds upon the best season of his career, but that could be offset if Swayman continues his growth and development into a No. 1 goalie in the NHL.

Certainly, trading Ullmark would carry some risk, but there's plenty of reason for the Bruins to believe in Swayman. Swayman got off to a rough start to the season, as he had an .885 save percentage and 3.08 GAA through his first six starts, owing in large part to the six goals he allowed in Ottawa and the four goals he allowed in Florida, both of which were losses. But from Nov. 25 to the end of the year, Swayman posted the third-best save percentage and GAA in the NHL.

Ullmark ranked first in those two categories, which is why he's in line to take home the first Vezina of his career. But, as Ullmark noted, with two netminders at the top of the league rankings in most statistics during a historically successful season, the Bruins may look to free up space from what could be considered a bit of a roster redundancy.

If that happens, it will present a seismic shift for a Bruins team seeking to avenge a premature postseason exit. And though it would be a rather shocking move to anybody not paying close attention, it's something that wouldn't catch Ullmark by surprise.

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