The arbitration case for restricted free-agent goaltender Jeremy Swayman will be heard on July 30 unless the Boston Bruins and Swayman come to an agreement on a new contract before that date. News came out Friday, courtesy of TSN’s Elliotte Friedman, that the money offered by the Bruins and requested by Swayman has been made public. The Bruins are offering $2 million, and the former University of Maine star is seeking $4.8 million. That’s quite a discrepancy between the two sides and makes you wonder if these negotiations might cause some animosity between the team and the young netminder.
Swayman was a third-round draft pick of the Bruins in 2017 and has been among the most reliable backup goalies in the NHL. In 88 career games, Swayman is 54-23-7 with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. Those numbers are impressive enough to earn a starting spot on many NHL teams. However, his teammate Linus Ullmark just won the Vezina Trophy for the league’s top goaltender after a brilliant 2022-23 season. Ullmark has two years remaining on a $5 million contract as well. The tandem won the Jennings Trophy for best goalie pairing and are best of friends.
But in back-to-back postseasons, Swayman has supplanted Ullmark as starting goaltender during the first round of the playoffs and is poised to become a number one goalie. The Bruins see Swayman as the goalie of the future but want to have both netminders again this season. The team has just $6 million in cap space left to sign Swayman and forward Trent Frederic, whose arbitration case will be heard on August 1. There isn’t a lot of room to sign both, but $2 million for Swayman seems like a lowball offer, and you have to wonder how Swayman feels about it.
One relatable comp to Swayman is 26-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov wanted $4.9 million, while the Leafs were thinking $2.4 million. The arbiter settled on $3.55 million. Samsonov was 27-10-5 with a 2.33 goals against average and a .919 save percentage in 2022-23. These negotiations with Swayman seem very similar, and you would expect a similar decision on July 30.
Even though the details of the case would lead one to believe the talks are contentious, with the current salary cap situation for Boston and a unique case in Swayman, look for Swayman to remain in Boston for 2023-24 and the team to have a decision to make on goaltender heading into 2024-25.