Linus Ullmark in 2022
Key stats: 26-10-2, .917 save percentage, 2.45 GAA
Other stats: 11 GSAA, .796 HD save percentage
Reader rating: 7.4
Writer rating: 7.3
When the Bruins signed Linus Ullmark prior to last season, it was hard to really know what to make of the move.
Was he brought in to be a back-up to Tuukka Rask? Would he be a starter backed-up by heir apparent Jeremy Swayman?
The reality ended up being a bit more simple: Ullmark and Swayman combined to be a great goalie tandem, with the Swede having a solid first season in Boston.
As mentioned in Swayman’s player rating, both goalies were essentially neck and neck this season: their wins, games played, save percentages, and GAAs were extremely similar.
Ullmark ended up with a pretty significant advantage in goals-saved above average (GSAA), but the two goalies’ high-danger save percentages were close as well.
Basically, Swayman was good, Ullmark was good, and the Bruins benefited from their tug-of-war over the crease.
Ullmark had some nice moments this season: a run of six straight wins in January, a 37-save shutout (his only one of the season) in his last game of the regular season (against his former team, no less).
If there’s a knock on Ullmark (aside from the occasional soft goal or misplay that seem to happen to every goalie), it might be how his season ended.
Bruce Cassidy elected to make Ullmark his starter in Games 1 and 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes, and Ullmark allowed eight goals in those two losses.
(To be fair, Swayman allowed seven goals in his two starts in Carolina, both of which were losses as well; Ullmark didn’t start at home.)
With Swayman winning Games 3 and 4 at home, he ended up being “the guy” for the brief remainder of the season, with Ullmark relegated to back-up duty.
This isn’t to say that the losses can be pinned solely on Ullmark, just that after a good regular season, it’s not how he wanted things to end.
The B’s and Ullmark are in an interesting position going into this season.
Swayman probably has the slight edge in terms of getting first crack at the crease, and is the younger, more “goalie of the future” type; if he establishes himself as the Bruins’ true #1 this season, $5 million for Ullmark is pretty steep for a back-up.
Ullmark has a full NMC for his first two seasons, then a modified NTC for the last two, per CapFriendly.
However, we shouldn’t assume the crease will be Swayman’s either.
Jim Montgomery will likely give Ullmark and Swayman an equal chance to claim the starting spot, and there’s no reason Ullmark can’t gain the upper hand.
Two good goalies pushing each other - not a bad problem to have!