( Photo Credit: Elise Amendola / AP Photo )

By: Kevin Perry | Follow Me on Twitter @Kevperry_

The Boston Bruins have more than a few decisions regarding their roster moving forward this offseason. With ten players hitting free agency this offseason, the Bruins can only retain some, but they should prioritize budding star goaltender Jeremy Swayman. It’s safe to say that the Boston Bruins are in salary hell, with the salary cap only increasing by one million dollars to $83.5 million. There is a solution that could keep Swayman in Boston this season while maintaining his number on the salary cap low.

Don Sweeney and the rest of the Boston Bruins management should consider giving Jeremy Swayman a one-year bridge deal, which would provide Swayman less than the market value. Swayman would be compensated next season when the cap increases from $83.5 million to $87.5 million in 2024-25 and then to $92 million the year after.

Benefits For Swayman

Swayman would make between $1 million to $2 million this upcoming year, with some bonuses included, and then could cash in next season for a much more substantial deal. Swayman stands to make more money by signing a long-term contract next year instead of this season, and if he plays well, he could even cash in bigger than expected.

So if you look at what young goalies are making right now (Jake Oettinger, Carter Hart, Spencer Knight), they make around four million per year on their bridge deal, which is the market value for Swayman. If Swayman is willing to take the one-year bridge deal for less, then as mentioned before, the Bruins could give him upwards of $5 million a year or even more with the cap heading up. If Swayman continues on the career trajectory he has shown prior, he would certainly be worth that money.

This would be the smartest move for Swayman because he could take a loss in the short term but will cash in moving forward. For argument’s sake, Swayman would still be able to cash in on a deal at 25 years old and then another big contract at around 30 years old, depending on the term of the first deal.

Benefits For The Bruins

This deal would also benefit the Bruins in the short and long term. They would continue to have the top goaltending duo in the league for below what they should be making, giving them more cap flexibility this year. Doing so could allow the Bruins to keep another key player from their record-breaking roster.

Every dollar counts next year for the Bruins because a couple extra million could mean the difference between an experienced depth forward or a young prospect playing significant minutes. The Bruins are on track to having a few untested prospects coming up the ranks next season, so if you can have the money to have a veteran player in the mix.

What Happens With Linus Ullmark?

Then comes the issue of what to do with Linus Ullmark. Ullmark has two years left on his deal, so the Bruins could keep him for the last year of his contract when they would pay Swayman in this scenario and eat the cap or could find a suitable trade partner who is looking for an elite goaltender. Ullmark has a 15-team no-movement clause for the 2024-25 season, so finding a team would be relatively easy.

Ullmark will be 31 when his contract expires, so it likely that the goalie of the future looks like it is going to be Jeremy Swayman. The Bruins could choose to move Ullmark while his market value is at its highest right now and give Swayman a valid bridge deal, but this would weaken a team with an aging core that could still compete for a Stanley Cup. Also, Ullmark makes $5 million annually, which is relatively cheap for an elite goaltender.

Ullmark will leave the Bruins to find a starting role elsewhere, similar to the Washington Capitals’ situation with Braden Holtby and Ilya Samsonov. So the best thing to do would be to trade Ullmark after next season to save on the salary cap and to give Swayman another season to develop.

Final Thoughts

This proposal would take everyone involved to hold up their end of the bargain. Swayman would take less in the short term to help the team. The Bruins, instilling their trust in his hands moving forward, reward him with a substantially better deal than what he would make by market standards, and with an increased salary cap, it’s likely they would have to spend at the position anyways. By doing this, the Bruins would keep their future franchise star goalie, giving the team the best opportunity to win.