Comparison: Bruins Goalie Jeremy Swayman Mirroring Tuukka Rask’s First Full Season

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman had been an intriguing prospect from the Bruins since being drafted in the fourth round (111th overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft. After a brilliant junior year, the Alaska native played three seasons at the University of Maine at Orono and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award for the nation’s best college hockey player. The sky seemed to be the limit for the former Black Bear.

Swayman played ten games for Boston in 2020-21 and compiled a 7-3-0 record with a dazzling 1.50 goals-against average, and an impressive .945 save percentage. Swayman found his way in the pro game while the Bruins benefited from riding Tuukka Rask’s elite goaltending. But as Rask’s injury woes forced him to leave the organization, Swayman was thought to be the goalie in waiting. In the off-season, the Bruins signed former Buffalo Sabres Linus Ullmark to a four-year deal and traded fellow rookie goalie Daniel Vladar. But even with Ullmark in the mix, Swayman had a chance to earn the Boston net.

Much has transpired this season. Ullmark suffered through inconsistent play, and Rask tried a comeback, only to finally retire for good after four games. Swayman played well enough at the beginning of the year but was the odd man out when Rask returned. But through it all, Swayman has maintained focus and seized the opportunity left by Rask. The 6’3”, 205-pound netminder rode a hot streak from February 12th through April 2nd, posting a 12-2-1 record which vaulted him into the Calder Trophy discussion as the league’s top rookie.

However, Swayman would hit a rookie wall, and Ullmark would regain his status as the number one goalie until he was injured in a game against Ottawa on April 14th. Swayman entered that game and started to play the way he had for much of the season. In an unfortunate circumstance, the rookie goalie was back to form, beating Pittsburgh and St. Louis in consecutive games.

Swayman’s first full season is eerily similar to his predecessor Rask’s rookie year. In 2009-10, Rask burst onto the scene with a 22-12-5 record with a .931 save percentage and a sensational 1.97 goals-against average. Rask was fourth in the Calder voting and seventh in Vezina voting for the league’s top goalie. Swayman has just about mirrored Rask this season with a 22-12-3 record with a .916 save percentage and 2.33 goals against. Rask had five shutouts in ‘09-10, while Swayman has three. If Swayman gets three more starts in the final six games, he will match Rask’s total of 39.

As the Bruins approach the playoffs, a decision has yet to be made on who will get the nod in net. In fact, both goalies may play in the playoffs. But regardless if Swayman is starting or watching his teammate from the bench, the Bruins have a young netminder who has a chance to be another one of the greats that the Bruins have been fortunate to have over the years. If your numbers are close to Tuukka Rask, you might be something special in the years to come.

Episode 48. The Matt Grzelcyk Episode Bruins Benders Podcast

Fabian Lysell is the Bruins’ “top” prospect, jersey ads are here, David Pastrnak is not at captains’ practice and rookie camp begins!
  1. Episode 48. The Matt Grzelcyk Episode
  2. Episode 47. The Torey Krug Episode
  3. Episode 45. Live From Lops Brewing!
  4. Episode 46. Guess Who’s Back, Back Again!
  5. Episode 44. The Dog Days of Summer

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