The B’s signed him to a four-year, $20 million contract on the first day of free agency, which in turn, carries a $5 million cap hit. He also has a full no-movement clause for the first two years and then a modified no-movement clause for the final two.
As a result of the move, the Bruins quickly moved goaltender Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a 2022 third-round pick. Thus, the Bruins will be heading into this regular season with Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman as their two goaltenders This is ignoring the possibility of the Bruins re-signing Tuukka Rask once he recovers from his hip surgery.
Ullmark is coming off of a strong season with a historically bad Buffalo Sabres team. In 20 games, he sported a 9-6-3 record and .917 SV%. During the 2019-20 season, he had his true breakout campaign as well. In 34 games, he had a 17-14-3 record and .915 SV%. Therefore, he’s had two very solid years in a row. Now, he will be playing with a franchise that has a far better cast of defensemen. Furthermore, he also has two elite two-way forwards in Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand who will be killing penalties for him.
Yet, Ullmark’s preseason was very rocky, and there’s no denying that. In three games for the B’s, he had an 0-0-2 record and .839 SV%. It already has some fans concerned due to his cap hit and no-movement clauses. Yet, as I previously wrote, it’s far too early to judge this signing in a negative manner. The 28-year-old goaltender has been quite solid over these last few seasons and hasn’t even suited up in a regular season game for the team.
What will Ullmark’s role be with the Bruins?
Obviously, he’s going to be one of the Bruins’ two goaltenders. However, when it comes his role, the primary question is if he will be the team’s starter or backup.
Causeway Crowd fans have spoken and the vast majority voted that they want to see Swayman start opening night. Given how well Swayman played during the preseason versus Ullmark’s struggles, it’s entirely fair and wouldn’t be surprising to see. The kid has earned the chance to start. However, with Ullmark being a new guy, the Bruins could very well give him the chance to introduce himself to the Boston faithful immediately. Yet, when it comes to the long-term, it will be intriguing to see how the Bruins decide to split their duties.
If the Bruins’ practice lines remain true, though, Swayman will be the guy for game one of the season.
Ultimately, that will be up to how well both play during the start of the regular season. Ideally, the Bruins would love to see both goalies perform fantastically. If this occurs, they could form a very impressive 1A-1B tandem. The potential is truly there and it could be the best course of action. The Bruins had that to a degree with Rask and Jaroslav Halak, but the former obviously had a higher level of importance than Halak. However, Halak during his best days with the Bruins performed like a true number one goaltender and the B’s continuously had strong records because of it.
It will be entertaining to see what Ullmark provides during the regular season. With the preseason now completed, I’d encourage Bruins fans who are sour on him to push their pessimism aside for now and give him a chance. Let’s see what’s he capable of now that the games matter.