The Bruins did more than bring in a veteran to ‘compete’ with Jeremy Swayman and Daniel Vladar.
If that was the plan, the Bruins likely would have stolen the Sabres’ plan and signed veteran Craig Anderson to a one-year deal for the league minimum. Instead, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney stole the Sabres’ starting goaltender, signing Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract. The deal made Ullmark the 12th-highest paid goalie in the league, and after a Vladar trade, it locked the Bruins into an Ullmark-Swayman tandem to begin the 2021-22 season.
Still, the Bruins are talking openly about a Tuukka Rask return when the 34-year-old is fully recovered from hip surgery.
Or, as I can tell you in not so many words, they’re keeping all of their options open. Which, when you consider what they just did in regards to their crease and both its present and future, is perhaps their only real course of action.
There’s plenty of reasons to buy in on Ullmark.
At 6-foot-4, Ullmark fits the recent trend of gigantic goalies who take up a comically large portion of the net. And the metrics spoke of a potentially elite goaltender wasting away behind the worst professional hockey team (and perhaps the worst organization) of the modern era. Among goaltenders with at least 900 minutes of five-on-five play last year, Ullmark ranked fourth in five-on-five save percentage (.937). The names directly below him? 2021 Stanley Cup winner Andrei Vasilevskiy and 2021 Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury. Expand it over the last three seasons and Ullmark ranks 11th in save percentage (.926), 12th in goals saved above average (17.02), and 16th in high-danger save percentage (.831) among the group of 37 goaltenders with at least 4,000 minutes of five-on-five hockey under their blades.
“He’s big, he stops a lot of pucks way above expected, especially in five-on-five situations,” Sweeney acknowledged. “Both our goalie coaches in Bob [Essensa] and Mike [Dunham] broke down where there might be some deficiencies in Linus’s game. There are a few than a lot of goaltenders. Then the PK side of things is an area we’re going to shore up with him and how we kill, and address some of those things. But overall, he’s in the prime of his career, he’s had a lot of experience.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.