On Thursday, July 6th at 5 PM, the deadline for NHL Restricted Free Agents who are filing salary arbitration passed. Twenty-two RFAs filed for salary arbitration. Among them are three Boston Bruins Goaltender Jeremy Swayman, Forward Trent Frederic, and newly acquired defenseman Ian Mitchell.
Teams can still negotiate with players before hearings take place from July 20th through August 4th. No team wants to go to arbitration with the player, so players filing for arbitration incentives a deal to get quicker.
According to Cap Friendly, the Bruins have 6.9 million in projected cap space for the 2023-2024 season. The newly acquired Mitchell will likely sign a two-way contract and spend time with the Providence Bruins.
While in Providence, Mitchell’s contract will not count against the salary cap. However, that still leaves Swayman and Frederic. What will their contracts look like? Do the Bruins have enough space to sign both players?
Will the Bruins commit to Swayman as their long-term starting goaltender?
Jeremy Swayman’s next contract will be an interesting storyline for the Bruins this summer. The 24-year-old netminder has been fantastic since coming to Boston out of the University of Maine. Last season Swayman was fourth in the NHL in Save Percentage (.920), Goals Against Average (2.27), and Shutouts (4) and was awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy with fellow Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark for fewest goals allowed by a goaltending tandem. At 24, the sky’s the limit for Swayman.
He is projected to be the future starting goaltender for the Bruins but is currently splitting the net with reigning Vezina Winner Linus Ullmark. The goaltending tandem is a big question mark for the Bruins. How can the cash-strapped organization afford two elite goaltenders? Reports suggest Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney plans to keep both goaltenders.
If/ when the Bruins sign Swayman, he is bound to receive a large portion of their remaining budget. Similar young goaltenders such as Thatcher Demko received a five-year five million dollar contract, while more recently, the Dallas Stars signed Jake Ottinger for three years with a cap hit of 4 million dollars.
Another comparable is Spencer Knight of the Florida Panthers, who received a three-year deal with a 4.5 million dollar cap hit. It seems inevitable Swayman will receive a contract similar to Jake Ottinger’s at minimum.
The biggest question to me will be the term of his next deal. Will it be a short-term bridge deal, or will the Bruins commit to Swayman long-term? That will likely require a contract closer to Thatcher Demko or Tristian Jarry’s recent five-year deal with a 5.3 million dollar annual cap hit.
With the Bruins’ current cap situation, they would have to move on from current roster players to make extra room, something they are not willing to do. But I imagine they view Swayman as their guy long-term. He is five years younger than Ullmark and one of the most talented young goaltenders in the National Hockey League. I cannot imagine them not wanting to sign him for the long haul. It is a fascinating situation in Boston.
Trent Frederic has earned himself a healthy pay raise
Trent Frederic’s next contract will also be interesting. The 25-year-old Forward made tremendous strides this season, with the Bruins setting a career-high in goals (17), assists (14), and games played (79).
At a minimum, the Bruins were required to give Frederic a qualifying offer of 1,150,000. The 6-foot-3 Forward found a lot more offensive success and developed his defensive game last season, particularly his back-checking. The 2016 First Round Pick has developed into a very good top-nine forward, and if he continues to improve, he can become a special player for the Bruins.
However, he has been inconsistent throughout his career, but despite that, It is hard to imagine, given his newfound offensive success, that Frederic will not receive a contract closer to two million dollars if not more. He certainly deserves it. Again, terms will be an interesting thing to look out for here. Frederic fits well with the Bruins as a strong, physical forward with toughness and offensive talent. He is definitely a big part of their future plans.
Hopefully, the Bruins can lock up both Swayman and Frederic before the arbitration hearings. Once they get to that point, there is a chance it can be contested and ugly, and nobody wants that. This process has caused some worry among Bruins fans.
Boston has a passionate fan base, and there are many questions surrounding the organization’s future. Especially given the cap situation, players filing for arbitration is strictly a procedural and very common process. Fortunately, Sweeney has gone through this successfully on several occasions.
There is no need for Bruins fans to panic. We just need to be patient. To find out more about how the Salary Arbitration process works, check out Puckpedia.