Last season, the Boston Bruins began with Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak as their two goalies, and there was a very clear top dog.
Funny the difference a little time can make, as the Bruins will look far different in net once October rolls around.
Rask remains unsigned as he recovers from offseason hip surgery, which will keep him out until at least January. The door is open for him to return, and he only wants to play in Boston, but time will tell what he decides to do. Meanwhile, Halak now is a member of the Vancouver Canucks.
It’s for that reason the Bruins signed capable veteran Linus Ullmark, who undoubtedly will be pairing up with Jeremy Swayman following the trade of Dan Vladar.
Ullmark has far more experience than Swayman, and he was a largely good netminder with a largely bad Buffalo Sabres team in front of him most of his career. But Swayman is a homegrown product and looked fantastic in his first exposure to NHL action.
It’s a good problem to have, and one that will be sorted out in camp.
“Right now, it certainly looks like — the work Swayman did last year, he was able to handle the role we threw at him. And then Ullmark, playing in front of our team, does that change the way he approaches the game. At the end of the day, we feel he’s a young goalie that has a lot to give, some upside, that’s put up some solid numbers in this league, but certainly has room to improve on those with our group.
“It’s going to be new for Sway to come in and potentially be the No. 1, and Ullmark a new organization, having been the No. 1, how’s it going to play out for him? A different environment here, different expectations. At the end of the day, we’re all looking forward to seeing where they’re both at.
Ultimately, the Ullmark signing made too much sense. As the Philadelphia Flyers have learned with Carter Hart, you can’t just go all-in on a young goalie simply because he looked good early on. That’s a recipe for disaster. Getting Ullmark helps offset the loss of Rask in the short-term, and by putting four years on his contract he could prove to be the bridge from Rask to when Swayman is ready to become the Bruins’ franchise netminder.
But on August 5th, this is largely a needless discussion. Swayman and Ullmark will get even opportunities to impress in camp, and the Bruins will go from there.
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