By: Benjamin Aliber | Follow me on Twitter @baliber24
On January 18, 2023, Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark recorded his 100th career victory as the Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 4-1. Ullmark stopped 25-26 shots and held the Islanders scoreless for the final two periods, adding another marker onto what already is looking like a season for the history books. This season alone, Ullmark leads all goalies in every category. He has a 24-2-1 record through 29 games, boasts a 1.88 goals-against average (the only goaltender this season who has a sub-two goals-against after playing a minimum of 15 games), and a .937 save percentage.
How did he get to this moment? Ullmark was selected in the sixth round, 163rd overall, by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2012 entry-level draft. Ullmark earned his first-career win on October 30, 2015, as the Sabres defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1. He would appear in 19 more games for Buffalo that season, finishing with an 8-10-2 record.
The Swedish goaltender would only play one game the following season. It was not until the 2017-2018 season that Ullmark would start winning again. From 2017-2020, he recorded 33 wins in 71 games. The 2020-2021 season would be his last in Buffalo, but his last win as a Buffalo Sabre would see him hit career win number 50.
After spending the first stint of his career with a team that had no view of the playoffs anytime in the near future and their star center, Jack Eichel, having been traded to the Vegas Golden Knights, Ullmark decided it was time for a change of scenery. So, that offseason, Ullmark signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Boston Bruins averaging $5 million per year through the end of the 2024-25 season.
His first season with the Bruins saw a perfectly even split in games with Jeremy Swayman, the other goaltender on the Bruins NHL roster. In 41 games, 39 of which he started, Ullmark recorded 26 wins and ended the season with a 26-10-2 record. In addition, he ended the season with a career-best 2.45 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
There was much debate going into the 2022-2023 season for Boston. Primarily on the topic of who would be the team’s starting goaltender. Ullmark certainly has secured that job, as the stats at the top of this article show. He started the season with an 8-0-0 record before gaining his first loss at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The following regulation loss would come 15 games later against the Seattle Kraken, which was also the first regulation at home for the Bruins all season.
With another two years left in his contract after this season, if Ullmark can continue playing at the level he has been of as of late, there is no reason to doubt the Bruins can rely on him to stay consistent as Jeremy Swayman further develops his own game. For now, though, Ullmark hopes to become the first Bruins goaltender to win the Vezina since Tuukka Rask did it in 2014.