By: Joe Travia | Follow me on Twitter @NHLJoeTravia
It is no secret that the Boston Bruins are currently in a precarious position regarding the salary cap. As things stand presently, the Bruins have only $4,758,333 of space to agree to contracts with Unrestricted Free Agents Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci and newly acquired Restricted Free Agent Pavel Zacha. To put it bluntly, that is just nowhere near enough.
General Manager Don Sweeney knows that he needs to shed a contract or two to fit the Bergeron, Krejci, and Zacha deals while leaving a little wiggle room under the, and there are a few different ways he can achieve this. One suggestion I have seen from fellow fans on Twitter is trading goaltender Linus Ullmark. When I see this, all I can say to myself is this. Why?
First of all, let’s state the obvious. Linus Ullmark almost certainly isn’t going anywhere. His four-year $20 million contract signed in the summer of 2021 came with a full no-movement clause in the deal’s first two years. In the contract’s third year, Ullmark will submit a 16-team no-trade list. He will have a 15-team no-trade list in the fourth and final season. While these no-movement clauses can always be waived if a player is unhappy in his situation, the relationship he has developed with fellow goaltender Jeremy Swayman would seem to indicate anything but. Who can forget the Goalie Hugs?
Despite many fans initially calling this contract an overpay, it is important to note that Ullmark met (or even outperformed) expectations for a goaltender making his salary last season. Per Cap Friendly, Ullmarks $5 million AAV ranked him 15th among goalies heading into last season. Despite sharing the net with Swayman, Ullmark still finished the season with 26 wins (18th in the league), a .919 save percentage (11th), and goals against average of 2.45 (7th). When Swayman started to hit the rookie wall in the second half of the season, Ullmark took over down the stretch, earning the start in game one of the playoffs against the Hurricanes. With Swayman yet to prove he can be the number one guy for an entire season, would it be wise to rely on newly signed Keith Kinkaid to replace what you would be losing in Ullmark?
Finally, just how much value the Bruins are getting out of the goaltender position can’t be overstated. With Swayman still on his rookie deal with a cap hit of just $925K, the Bruins currently have two starting quality goaltenders taking up a total of $5.925 million against the cap. Some other goalie tandem cap hits around the league heading into 2022-2023:
- Toronto: Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov- $8.05 million
- Seattle: Philip Grubauer and Martin Jones- $6.9 million
- Detroit: Ville Husso and Alex Nedeljkovic- $7.75 million
- Los Angeles: Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen- $10.8 million
The Ullmark/Swayman tandem was better than all these pairings last year while costing significantly less. With that sort of value at the most critical position, goaltender should be the last position Don Sweeney looks to trade. There will be players that move; Linus Ullmark will not and should not be one of them.