(Photo Credit: Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter @adbblue

Last season, Linus Ullmark put on an absolute goaltending clinic. He had one of the best single-season goaltending performances in NHL history, which included scoring an empty-net goal, and was voted to his first All-Star game. His presentation earned him his first career Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender. 

It seems apparent he will remain with the Boston Bruins after trade rumors swirled early in the off-season. The organization had a lot of roster movement this summer, and the team will look much different from the historic 2022-23 campaign. So, Can the Bruin’s net-minder repeat as the league’s reigning Vezina Trophy Winner?

Winning multiple Vezina Trophies is difficult enough, let alone winning back-to-back. Only one active goalie in the NHL has won the award multiple times: Sergei Bobrovsky in 2013 and then again in 2017. The last goalie who won it back-to-back was Martin Brodeur in 2007 and 2008. History shows it will be a tall task for Ullmark to achieve. But he has a great chance if he can replicate his previous season’s performance closely. However, several different factors impact the odds.

The Bruins roster changing significantly, especially with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci retiring, will undoubtedly affect Ullmark’s numbers. With a less bolstered lineup, the 6’5 goalie will likely face a heavier load of shots and scoring chances, leading to stats not as good as last season. Another factor is he may have a lighter workload, with Jeremy Swayman entering another season. Swayman got a considerable amount of starts last season and was impressive as a backup, so he will likely receive more this season. However, some factors could support Ullmark’s odds of repeating as the league’s best goaltender. 

The 30-year-old had outstanding advanced stats last season in areas that could carry over to this season. With stats involving high-danger scoring chances, he was at the top of several categories among qualified goaltenders. He had a .881% save percentage when facing high-danger chances, which was top five. He also led the league in goals saved above average at 48.51. The most impressive advanced stat he posted was his quality start percentage at .896%. To put things in perspective of how impressive that is, the next closest goalie in that category who played at least 40 games was Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders, who posted a .700%.

Likely, Ullmark won’t post advanced stats that high again, but if he finishes with numbers even slightly regressed, he still has a solid chance to be a Vezina Trophy candidate. One of the biggest things that stood out with Ullmarks’ game last season was his quality of saves. There were numerous times at key points during games that Ullmark would make a huge save, as his advanced stats prove. Furthermore, Ullmark tied for the lead league in wins last season with 40 despite playing 13 fewer games than the player he tied with: Alexander Georgiev of the Colorado Avalanche. 

It would be fair to presume the Bruins won’t win as many games this coming season, but Ullmark has proved to fare well in that department throughout his NHL career. He currently has a career record of 116-63-16. The former sixth-round spent the first six seasons of his career with the Buffalo Sabres, who had a combined record of 171-222-60 in that time frame. Ullmark had an individual record of 50-47-13 on mostly basement-dwelling Sabres teams. In his first two seasons with Boston, he has a 66-16-3 record, proving his play is consistently good enough to give his team a chance to win nightly. If Ullmark does win back-to-back Vezina’s, he would be the first goalie in Bruins history to do so and just the fourth to win multiple in their career. The Other three are Tiny Thompson (1933,1936, and 1838) and Frank Brimsek (1939,1942), who won back-to-back in 1938 and 1939, and Tim Thomas (2009 and 2011).