By: Scott Wood | Follow me on Twitter @ScottHoHPodcast
After an impressive five wins, one regulation loss, and a pair of shutouts, Jeremy Swayman has been named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for February, it was announced Wednesday. He became the first Boston Bruin to receive the honor in over 18 years when Andrew Raycroft earned it in January of 2004.
It has been a rollercoaster season for the 23-year-old netminder. Swayman began the year in a battle for starts with veteran Linus Ullmark, and after seeing seven starts throughout November and posting a 5-2 record, he saw only four in the month of December, winning only one of them and putting up a 2-4-2 record through early February. Ullmark had taken over the starter position, being trusted against the teams with the better records, while Swayman fought the puck against “lesser” opponents.
During Tuukka Rask’s attempted return to the Bruins in the middle of January, Swayman was sent down to Providence, where he hadn’t played since taking over for Jaroslav Halak as Rask’s backup near the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. General Manager Don Sweeney recalled the conversation he had with Swayman at the time: “I think the single biggest thing that came out of our conversation today was he just stared at me and said, ‘Well, if those two guys struggle, do I get the net?’ Unpredictably, the Bruins young prospect actually struggled with the assignment, going 3-2 in the AHL and posting a .911 save percentage. Much lower than seasoned AHL veteran Tony Grosenick’s .924.
This was the first period of adversity that Swayman had faced since turning pro, and it led many to speculate that they jumped the gun on predicting the young goaltender as the future of the position in Boston. His name began to come up in trade rumors for big-name players like Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun and San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl. Some even considered the idea of the Bruins trading for multiple Cup winner Marc Andre Fleury from Chicago.
Swayman came back from Providence at the end of January, and after a bad come-from-behind loss to the Penguins at the beginning of the month, he has been lights-out. His only loss came in a single-goal-against, 33-save shootout against the Rangers on February 15. During this month, he has won five of his seven starts, posted shutouts against the Senators and most recently the LA Kings on Tuesday, and has been the starting goaltender in three of the four games of the Bruins Western road trip so far. While still early, it appears as though, for the time being, Swayman is the Bruins’ number one option between the pipes.
His record is now 13-7-3, and he now sits fourth in the league in save percentage (.929) and first in GAA (1.95), one of only two NHL goaltenders with a number under two for the year. The fears some had surrounding Swayman’s future seem to have abided for now, and the trade chatter has all but ceased. Swayman has overcome his first adversity as a pro, and his recent performance has Bruins fans pontificating about a long playoff run once again.