( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports )

By Tommy Bennett | Follow me on Twitter @TJBennettt37

If there is anything the Boston Bruins have been blessed with, it is goaltending. To go from Tim Thomas to Tuukka Rask was a blessing in disguise. Now that those two are long gone, the future of the Boston Bruins goaltending is in good hands. The transition has been nothing but great for the franchise overall.

In addition, the two were one of the best tandems in the entire league this year. The brotherly bond between Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman was magical. However, the future of the Boston Bruins crease poses questions. One of them is a Jeremy Swayman contract. He is a pending restricted free agent this summer. With David Pastrnak locked up, the priority shifts to the young netminder.

Comparable Players

This is where things get tricky. It is very easy for Don Sweeney to throw money at him. What makes sense? Does he take a team-friendly deal like many in the past have? Or is he deserving of more? What about his peers around the league? There are three players who’ve come off their entry-level contract (ELC) and signed for three years. Every single one of them has, but what was their level of play like to warrant such a comparison? Let’s take a look.

Carter Hart- Signed In 2021 (ELC expired)

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

There was so much promise for the Philadelphia Flyers. A team full of veterans finally found something they were lacking for years. A young promising goaltender emerged onto the scene. Carter Hart is supposed to be the guy of the present and the future. With a new regime in place, it remains to be seen what his future looks like. Claude Giroux is long gone, and the club is nowhere near contention status. Let’s take a look at his level of play over the last three years. 

Goals Against Average 

  • 2019-20: 2.39
  • 2020-21: 3.67
  • 2021-22: 3.16

Save Percentage 

  • 2019-20: .915
  • 2020-21: .877
  • 2021-22: .905

Goals Saved Above Expected

  • 2019-20: 6.9
  • 2020-21: -18.3
  • 2021-22: -6.6

After a strong showing, it has been downhill a bit for the young goalie. After showing flashes of brilliance in his first season, he has hit rock bottom. His level of play and potential is much similar to Mackenzie Blackwood of the New Jersey Devils. He has just one year left on his deal (RFA) and will need another contract. With the club headed for a true rebuild, Hart is a player that can fetch a nice return. In addition, he went on to rebound this season, showing signs of his former self. The potential for him is there, and with the team entering a rebuild, a team could look to acquire him.

Current Deal: 3 years $3.979 AAV

Spencer Knight- Signed in 2022 (ELC expired)

( Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports )

After being drafted, the net in South Florida is in good hands. With already having Vezina-caliber goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, having a young Spencer Knight is huge. However, he has emerged quicker than anticipated. Bobrovsky signing the big deal showed he was the goalie of the present and future. Knight has shown flashes that he can be the man in the Florida crease. The sample sizes for him are small. But in the time he has seen in the crease, he has looked sharp. 

Goals Against Average

  • 2020-21: 2.32
  • 2021-22: 2.79

Save Percentage

  • 2020-21: .920
  • 2021-22: .908

Goals Saved Above Expected

  • 2020-21: -1.1
  • 2021-22: 4.0

The sample size is small as he is not a full-time starter for Florida. However, he has shown his ability to stand tall in the net and is worth the gamble for a contract. There were times when Knight took the crease and emerged as the number one. His numbers are strong, and a heavier workload is in line for him. Of all the goalies on this list, he is the only one who isn’t the number one guy but has a fighting chance.

Current deal: 3 years $4.5 million AAV

Jake Oettinger- Signed in 2022 (ELC expired)

( Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports )

Of all the comparable deals, this one is the most comparable. The level of play matches up, as well as the workload. After a slew of injuries to goaltenders, the reins finally have been passed down to Jake Oettinger. Oettinger is a young promising goalie taken by Dallas in their 2017 haul with Miro Heiskanen and Jason Robertson. After the torch has been passed down by Ben Bishop, he played well in two full seasons with the big club. Here is how it looks so far for the college standout.

Goals Against Average

  • 2020-21: 2.36
  • 2021-22: 2.53

Save Percentage

  • 2020-21: .911
  • 2021-22: .914

Goals Saved Above Expected

  • 2020-21: -4.8
  • 2021-22: 1.4

As great as his regular seasons have been, his postseason in 2021-22 is where he made a name for himself. Oettinger had a 1.81 GAA and a .954 save %. In addition, his goals saved above expected (10.1) was the most through the first round. He was a large reason why the high-flying Flames had to go to Game Seven against him. That alone helped earn his contract, and he has proven that level of play was no fluke. 

Current Deal: 3 years $4 million AAV

Now that these are the more likely scenarios, how does Jeremy Swayman compare to these guys? 

Boston’s Future In Net

The future of the Boston Bruins is in good hands. After being blessed with Rask for so many years, you always wondered what would life be like after him. As a matter of fact, life after him is fantastic. As the team looks to get younger, it appears they have their man in Swayman. He has been great since taking time in the crease and has shown flashes of brilliance. Now that his ELC is up, a new deal is on the horizon. But how does he compare to his peers?

Goals Against Average

  • 2020-21: 1.50
  • 2021-22: 2.41
  • 2022-23: 2.27

Save Percentage

  • 2020-21: .945
  • 2021-22: .914
  • 2022-23: .920

Goals Saved Above Expected

  • 2020-21: 5.6
  • 2021-22: 4.2
  • 2022-23: 24.2

The sample size for Swayman is as much as Knight and Oettinger. However, his first year was only a ten-game sample size. Even with that, his numbers are wildly better than the rest of the pack. But the following season was his first full year and he lived up to the task. Swayman went on to share the crease and play in 41 games. That larger sample size saw him put up better numbers than Oettinger (who arguably is the best of the bunch). These comparables are not far off as the sample sizes are similar, as well as the numbers each have displayed. 

The Verdict

It is safe to say that Jeremy Swayman is an elite young goaltender. He has backed that up with his play comparably to his peers. Not to mention, this season was he best year to date. Even though the team was historic in front of him, he had a successful season. His hugging partner Linus Ullmark stole the show, but when Swayman has his name called, he delivers. This strong season should see his pay raise go higher, but the contract will be similar. Don Sweeney has crucial cap decisions to make, and one of those lies with its goaltenders.

Projected Contract: 4 years $4.75 million AAV

All Stats Come From Money Puck