(Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus / AP Photo)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

The Boston Bruins have had one of the most luxurious goaltender situations in the National Hockey League for the past two seasons. They have Linus Ullmark, the 2023 Vezina Trophy winner, in one stall. The veteran goaltender would be the starter on most of the teams across the league. But Boston was spoiled in the goalie department.

Because in the other stall lies Jeremey Swayman, perhaps the best netminder in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs while the Bruins were alive. The 25-year-old posted a 2.15 goals against average and a .933 save percentage in 12 postseason games this spring, arguably the only reason the B’s advanced past the first round.

But there’s one problem. Having two superstar goalies on your roster is expensive. And now that Swayman is a free agent and Ullmark has just one year left on his contract, Bruins management has some questions to answer regarding their famous goalie duo.

Let’s begin with the obvious. It should be Don Sweeney’s top priority this summer to ink Swayman to a long-term deal that keeps him in Boston for the foreseeable future. If he didn’t prove his mettle throughout his 25-10 regular season, where he posted a 2.53 GAA and a .916 SV%, he certainly did in the postseason. He made 30 saves in Boston’s Game Seven win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, followed up with a handful of monumental efforts against the Florida Panthers in the second round.

“I think, a lot of growth,” Swayman told reporters on Sunday of his performance this season. “That’s what I’m most excited about, and to be a part of a longer playoff run to understand what it takes to be successful, and just how difficult it is to achieve the ultimate goal. That’s what I’m gonna have in the back of my mind all summer long.”

But keeping Swayman for the long haul will come with a hefty price tag. While contract conversations are unknown at this time, Swayman is likely positioned to be one of the highest-paid goalies in the league. With nearly $21 million in cap space, according to Cap Friendly, the Bruins have the assets to make it happen.

“That’s everything to me,” Swayman said of being a Bruin. “I think it’s obvious how much I care about this organization, how much I care about this team and the city. And I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. And so that’s what allowed me to come to the rink every day and just give my absolute all because I know I’m representing more than myself and my family. I’m representing the city and an organization and a great history. You talk to guys around the league that don’t have that experience, and I feel bad for him. So I couldn’t be more, more happy to be a Bruin.”

That leaves Ullmark, who has one year remaining on his $5 million annual salary, an interesting decision for Bruins management on a crucial offseason that will likely contain a search for middle-six forward help. If the Bruins find themselves in a situation where they could use that extra cash, trading the veteran goalie won’t be so simple—as seen at the most recent trade deadline. Ullmark reportedly invoked his no-trade clause, nixing a deal to ship him out of Boston.

“I have never been a part of any trade talks before, so that was a new experience,” Ullmark said Sunday. “Was it hard? Yeah, it was hard, because you’re very comfortable where you are, you don’t want to move when you feel like you’re playing well, and you have the team, you have the bonds that you’ve made with your teammates. So, with that popping up now, I’m not the only one that was in trade talks, obviously.”

So, if the Bruins want to trade Ullmark, it will be challenging to find a destination that isn’t included in his no-trade clause. If it were up to Ullmark, though, he would love to come back to Boston for another season.

“I’m very excited about what’s to come,” he said. “We’re in for a heck of a summer. I’m very motivated, mixed in with some revenge, obviously some inspiration this fall, but most of all, excitement of what’s to come. Obviously everybody thinks about, for me personally, that it was a year that wasn’t as good as it was prior. For me though, it’s all about personal growth, and I learned a lot about myself and different aspects of the game and also how I am as a human being.”

Trading Ullmark could very well be Boston’s ideal option regarding their goalie situation for next season. Not only would it free up some money that could be used to supplement a free agent signing, but it would also open the door for Swayman to take the reigns of the Bruins fully—something he demonstrated he was capable of doing in the playoffs.

If that is the case, Brandon Bussi would likely be promoted to be Swayman’s backup after an impressive stint with the Providence Bruins this season. Bussi posted a 2.67 GAA and 0.913 SV% en route to a 23-10 record. Bussi is also up for a contract this summer but would require much less financial commitment than Ullmark’s $5 million. Regardless of which patch the Bruins take, this summer will surely be intriguing for Bruins goalies and their future wearing the Spoked B.