In Tuesday's heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the Boston Bruins were dealt more than just a blow to the win column: they now have to deal with injuries to both Matthew Poitras and Linus Ullmark, the latter of which stings a bit harder than the former.
While Ullmark's injury ultimately thrusts Jeremy Swayman into the starting position in net for the Bruins. Given Swayman's superior stats (11-3-6 record, 2.50 GAA, and .920 SV%), and age, it begs the question: why wasn't he there in the first place? Let alone, why wasn't he playing more games than Ullmark?
Now that he is being thrust into the starter's spotlight, as predicted five years ago by goalie development coach Mike Dunham, it is tough to tell what direction Boston will take next.
As Causeway Crowd's Michael Najarian referred to in the linked piece above, it does appear that Brandon Bussi is next in line after Swayman, but it does not appear that Bruins' general manager Don Sweeney is set on that idea. Which leads to the big idea here: it's time to re-evaluate the whole situation.
Ullmark is getting older and maybe it's time to explore trade options
The reality of the situation is Ullmark is 30-years-old, and will be 31 come the end of July, and Swayman just turned 25 in November and won't be 26 until the end of 2024.
And to pour salt on the wound, but Ullmark has not been injured four times in the last two seasons - twice undisclosed, once in the lower body, and once in the upper body. Frankly, it's not looking good for Ullmark. It also doesn't help that Ullmark wound up playing through an injury in the playoffs (when they needed him the most).
Swayman is the definition of youth (outside of Poitras who is 19-years-old), and is writing his own story.
Ullmark has a no-trade list that extends to half the league, who is on that list and if he would be willing to waive any of it, is unknown, but given his age and the rapid decline of his play, and rapid increase of skills for Swayman should give Swayman time to think about whether or not the 30-year-old netminder is worth spending money on for one more year.
Now, while Bussi does not have any NHL experience under his belt just yet, contrary to some belief out there, there is a chance he gets to touch the NHL ice outside of warm-ups - depending on the extent of the injury to Ullmark.
So far this season the Providence Bruins, the Western Michigan University product has played in 20 games all while racking up a 10-6-3 record along with a 2.94 GAA, and .901 SV%, and last season he was not only an AHL All-Star, but also racked up a 22-5-4 record with a 2.40 GAA, and a .924 SV%.
Does this mean that Bussi could be the answer moving forward as a back-up? I cannot say definitely one way or the other given his lack of experience, but does his age and statistics do make him a strong candidate.
What's next for Boston?
Boston next faces off with its old coach in Bruce Cassidy, and the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada - puck drop is at 10:00 p.m. EST on NESN and ESPN+.