It appears that fans of the Boston Bruins are already heavily criticizing goaltender Linus Ullmark. The 28-year-old has had his struggles this preseason, as he’s currently sporting an .813 SV%. Furthermore, his turnover against the New York Rangers Sunday night led the B’s to lose in overtime and completed the Blueshirts 3-1 comeback.
However, it’s far too early to judge this signing. The same would be said if he was lights out during the preseason. The Bruins haven’t even played their first regular season game with Ullmark on the roster, so let’s just take it easy.
There’s no denying that Ullmark is coming into Boston with high expectations. The team signed him to a four-year, $20 million contract, which in turn, equates to a $5 million AAV. Furthermore, he also has a modified no-movement clause for both the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons. Thus, he is not cheap by any means and does have extra protection in the future.
Therefore, at a minimum, he’s expected to make up a 1A-1B tandem with Jeremy Swayman. This may be the best case scenario for the Bruins this season, as if everything goes according to plan, they will have two goaltenders who both are reliable starters. This is excluding the possibility of the team bringing back Tuukka Rask once he is healthy, too. When looking at his statistics these last two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, this is a role that he should have zero trouble handling.
The 2019-20 season was a true breakout campaign for Ullmark, as he had a 17-14-3 record and .915 SV%. This would help him cement himself as a legitimate starting goaltender in this league. Last season, on a historically bad Buffalo team, he had a 9-6-3 record and .917 SV%. He dealt with injury trouble during it, but when he played, he made the Sabres far more competitive. Due to the fact that the Bruins will provide him with a much stronger team in front of him, it’s hard to believe that he can’t replicate stats like this moving forward.
Ullmark is expected to start the Bruins’ final preseason game tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals. Here’s to hoping he has a very strong performance and helps lower the negativity that is surrounding him. Again, it’s just the preseason and he has so much time to prove himself once the regular season comes along. As fans, it’s time to root for his success, rather than immediately put him down during his roughest moments.