( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau / Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Buffalo Sabres TV Colour Analyst and former National Hockey League goaltender Martin Biron was on yesterday’s Ray and Dregs Hockey Podcast with hosts Ray Ferraro and Darren Dreger. The Buffalo Sabres analyst Mentioned in the program that two NHL goaltenders could be receiving offer sheets this off-season, and a current Boston Bruins netminder and fan favorite was one of them.

Biron says Minnesota Wild goaltender Filip Gustavsson and Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman may see the offer sheet process come their way as both are set to be restricted free agents this summer. Swayman, a 24-year-old Alaskan native, will complete his entry-level contract’s third and final year on July 1st, 2023. Some NHL contract projecting websites, such as AFP Analytics, see a range of $3 million to $4 million per season for the next two years in a prototypical bridge contract to retain the young B’s prodigy.

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Analyst Martin Biron mentions a potential offer sheet for Boston Bruins Jeremy Swayman at the 13:30 mark of the above Ray and Dregs Hockey Podcast YouTube channel.

The Sabres analyst said any NHL club desperate for goaltending could make an offer to the Swayman camp; as many already know, Boston is a salary cap-strapped team going into the upcoming 2023-24 season. Bruins currently have potential 2022-23 Vezina Trophy-winning Linus Ullmark, who carries an NHL annual average value of $5 million per season for the next two years. It’s been heavily rumored that Ullmark could be on the move to free up cap space and possibly get back in the early rounds of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft festivities set for the Fourth of July week in Nashville, Tennessee.

Biron mentions that Swayman could receive an offer sheet up to $6 million for one season, prying him away from the Bruins organization if he wants to chase the money in his first actual NHL contract outside his previous ELC deal. If Boston does not match that offer, Biron believes the Bruins could get back a first-round selection in this year’s NHL Draft and also receive a third-round selection in compensation. Of course, this is a complicated way of doing business, but it’s also not out of the realm of possibilities when other teams around the league are looking to better themselves, particularly in goal.

Swayman has appeared in 88 career NHL regular season games, posting 54-23-7 in three seasons while carrying a 2.24 goals-against-average and .920 save percentage. With the NHL Draft coming up and free agency under a month away, Biron speculates that the Bruins might be under pressure to get a deal done with Swayman before an offer sheet can be sent.

The Boston Bruins are already in the hole of $4.5 million heading into next season, and with seven defensemen, seven forwards, and one netminder locked up for next season, some unfortunate things could happen. While it’s ideal to have a tandem in the crease of Swayman and Ullmark returning, it’s hard to believe the Bruins can be cap compliant, rolling the dice on an $8 million to $9 million budget in the crease. I think a netminder will be moved for cap space and to retain draft capital to replenish a depleted prospect pool.

The Bruins do not have a first, second, or fifth-round pick this year, and it looks even worse when the 32 teams all get together in the summer of 2024 when the B’s sit at the entry draft table at an NHL arena yet to be determined. Next summer, the B’s will not participate in the first three rounds, so an emergence to get back draft picks may be inevitable, forcing the B’s to make difficult decisions.

Regardless if Ullmark gets traded or Swayman receives an offer sheet this offseason, one of them will remain in Boston, promoting interesting decisions for the team’s next backup. The Bruins could always maximize the NHL salary cap by re-signing current goaltending prospect Brandon Bussi to a two-way NHL contract. Bussi, who’s had a fantastic run with the Bruins organization in the minor-pro ranks for the last 14 months, is poised to be the “next” one, in my opinion, but also may need another full season in the American Hockey League.

Bussi, a 24-year-old 6′-4″ 209-pound New York native, got an early taste of pro hockey life with the Providence Bruins when he agreed to an amateur try-out agreement as soon as his NCAA commitment was over at Western Michigan University. In five games, Brandon went 3-2-0 with one shutout in the final games of the 2021-22 AHL season. He signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the NHL Bruins and reported to the ECHL Maine Mariners to start his first pro hockey games with the B’s “AA” minor-po affiliate.

With Maine in four games, he went 3-1-0 with a 2.50 GAA and .922 Save%. This past season coming up and covering for the injured netminder Kyle Keyser, Bussi pretty much took over the starting role in Providence and the league posting a 25-5-4 record, a 2.40 GAA, and a .924 Save%. While many look at his stats and think great things, the Bruins goaltending staff of Bob Essena and Mike Dunham see more upside in his game, which is ideal now with the possibility of losing one NHL netminder this summer. Bussi has no NHL experience, which is a valid narrative, but then again, neither did Jeremy Swayman before he was catapulted into the league for the injured Tuukka Rask not long ago.

I would love to see Bussi in the NHL as soon as the start of next season, but I’ve backed my expectations on the player a bit. Maybe the B’s sign a veteran with experience, and if that doesn’t work out in season, Bussi is recalled from Providence, giving him a chance to grab the backup netminding reigns.

Another option to address the potential backup vacancy to next year’s Bruins roster is to look at the upcoming free agents in the crease that might be available on July 1st. If the Bruins want to go with experience and keep Brandon Bussi in Providence and continue to develop, then maybe the list below of veteran netminders might be the avenue Boston explores.

37-year-old Jonathan Quick could be signed for one-year at $1.2 million

28-year-old Alex Nedeljkovic could be signed for one-year at $1.2 million

31-year-old Alex Lyon could be signed for one-year at $900K

34-year-old Martin Jones could be signed for one-year at $1.7 million

30-year-old Laurent Brossoit could be signed for one-year at $1.4 million

So here’s where this off-season gets interesting regarding the goaltending structure for the upcoming year. Does Bruins General Manager Don Sweeny have faith and go with Brandon Bussi next season and a contract expected to be under or around $1 million per season, or invest in an experienced tendy that could be obtained from $1.5 million to $2 million per season?

After posting this article, I later found out from good friend Dominic Tiano on Twitter (@dominictiano) that if Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman does, in fact, file for salary arbitration, he is not eligible to sign any offer sheet received. The Bruins hockey and prospect guru also stated that 24 players filed for arbitration last year, removing an offer sheet option.