The Boston Bruins boasted one of the NHL’s best goalie tandems for years in Tuukka Rask and Jaro Halak. This past season saw a bitter end for the duo with Halak heading to Vancouver in free agency and Rask’s career in doubt.
That put the Bruins in a bit of a bind with just young netminder Jeremy Swayman signed to man the pipes next season. The 22 year-old preformed well when called upon this past season with a 7-3 record to go with a 1.50 GAA and .945 SV%. However; he hasn’t been tested for an entire NHL season.
That’s when GM Don Sweeney went to work and may have made the best signing of the entire free agent season.
Bruins sign Linus Ullmark
The Bruins signed goaltender Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contact on the first day of the free-agency period.
The 27-year-old Ullmark was 9-6-3 with a 2.63 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 20 appearances for the Buffalo Sabres last season. He spent six seasons with the Sabres and went 50-47-13 with a 2.78 GAA and .912 save percentage.
It was a great move, since Ullmark may be one of the more underrated goalies in the league because he plays for the Buffalo Sabres.
“He’s big, he stops a lot of pucks way above expected, especially in five-on-five situations,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said of Ullmark. “He’s had a lot of experience. He’s had some injuries we’re going to help him address to be in the best shape going forward and play in a real structured environment which I think he was excited about. He knows what our team is like, playing against it, and he’s excited to be on the inside of it all, playing for the us, and we’re fortunate.”985 The Sports Hub
Ullmark excited about joining the Bruins
After signing with the Bruins, Ullmark admitted he was working things out with Buffalo until talks broke down late. Once Boston came calling, it didn’t take long for him to start feeling comfortable with a change and a chance to win.
“Ever since we started the whole process, it felt right,” he explained. “I probably have the highest expectations (for myself). I always try to be the best. But definitely, you would be a fool not to think of the Stanley Cup as your main goal.”
For Ullmark, he’s excited about getting to know the guys in Boston and to build that “trust factor.” Ultimately, he knows that it will fall on him. “It’s tough to say what my expectations are because for me, it’s just about being better than I was last season. And try to top that and keep on playing hockey and enjoy it.”
Rask may return this season
The Bruins will ride Ullmark and Swayman to start the season, but there remains a possibility that Rask could return.
Tuukka is recovering from hip surgery and GM Sweeney has already said the door is open for his return. The 34 year-old already said during exit meetings that if he were to play next season it would only be for the Bruins. His future remains uncertain because the surgery is expected to keep him out for at least five months, and there’s a chance it could force him to retire.
“I’m not going to play for anybody else but the Bruins,” Rask explained. “This is our home. We have three kids in school, we have friends here. Hopefully it works out that I can return well (from surgery) and then we will talk contract.”
While everyone wishes nothing but the best for Rask, the Bruins locked up their future in goal with Linus Ullmark. Depending on how things play out, it could easily be the best UFA signing of this past offseason.