In a ranking of the top ten goaltenders in 2022-23 season, both Boston Bruins goaltenders have been all of the place. In TheHockeyWriters.com’s poll, they had Jeremy Swayman ranked #10, and Linus Ullmark ranked #4, but the NHL Network poll had it a bit different.
The flagship TV station at Ullmark ranked as the sixth-best goaltender in the league, meanwhile Swayman was nowhere to be found.
The five in front of the 2023 Vezina Trophy-winner were Juuse Sarros of the Nashville Predators, Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets, Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders, Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers, and the #1 goalie was Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Now, yes, there are some good goaltenders in that group, it was somewhat surprising to see Ullmark so low on the list – especially after winning the award for best goaltender, and also after Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak were named #10, and #1 wings, respectively.
In the 2022-23 season, Ullmark had a career-year where he appeared in a career-high 49 games. He was also able to tally a 1.89 Goals Against Average, and .938 Save Percentage while also tying a career-high in shutouts with two.
When it came to playoffs time, Ullmark regressed a tad – playing in the first six games of the Bruins’ first round matchup with the Florida Panthers before giving way to Swayman in Game 7.
It later came out the Ullmark had played through a “debilitating injury” the entire series, but had not told the media about it, and that it had affected his game some, but he never let on further than that.
Because of the injury in the playoffs, however, there is a chance the Boston head coach Tim Montgomery takes his time easing Ullmark back into playing again. Fresh off winning the Vezina, and for ranking in the top-10 goalies in the league, I’m not sure he’ll be too happy if that idea is proposed though.
Should he be ranked higher?
If your answer to this isn’t a “heck yes”, I would like to change your mind. Maybe I won’t be able to, but I’m certainly going to try.
Now while every goalie on the list above Ullmark made the playoffs outside of Sarros (sorry Nashville!!), none of them were ranked any higher than the sixth or seventh-seed, especially Hellebucyk who had to stand on his head and do a few cartwheels just to stay there.
To me, that either means you’re not getting enough scoring or you’re really just not that solid of a goaltender.
That’s not to say that none of these goalies ahead of Ullmark were good, they were definitely good (and you have to be to start in the NHL), but Vasilevskiy’s GAA was a whopping 2.65, Shesterkin’s was 2.48, Sorokin’s was 2.34, Hellebucyk’s was 2.49, and Saros’s was 2.69.
To be fair, these were in a larger sample size and Ullmark was sharing goaltending duties with Swayman, but, again, his GAA was 1.89, and he led his team to the playoffs as the top-seed.
So does he need to be ranked higher? Yes.