Opinion: Trading Linus Ullmark Is an Insanely Short-Sighted Decision

Fanbases are excellent test subjects against the term “you can’t have enough of a good thing.” 

Take the Boston Bruins as an example, fresh off a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders Thursday night, improving their overall record to 11-1-1. A record due in large part to the outstanding performances of their two goaltenders, Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark. Yet, it’s impossible not to hear or read about someone’s desire in parting ways with the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Linus Ullmark.

Despite night in and night out mesmerizing performances from the Bruins dynamic duo, which have earned them proper recognition in the league’s top 10 in both goals against average (Swayman 1.49, Ullmark 2.30) and save percentage (Swayman .952, Ullmark .926). People still bang the ‘trade Linus Ullmark’ drum. So, as it turns out, yes, you apparently can have enough of a good thing. 

Where exactly did this mindset originate from? Well, outside of a specific radio station in the greater Boston area- it’s fair to assume a “strike while the iron’s hot” crew banded together following the Bruins early exit from the 2023 playoffs, where in the latter stages, Ullmark’s performance left much to be desired. Though shortly thereafter, Ullmark won the Vezina Trophy as hockey’s best goalie and the rest is history. But therein lies the problem. Boston’s greatest weapon during their renaissance has been their goaltending. But never before (with all due respect to Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halák) has the duo been this prolific. 

The relationship Ullmark and Swayman have developed is akin to that of Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack when both were members of the Vancouver Canucks. Now, friendship is never a sound counterargument to making a trade in the world of sports. But logistics is. 

How quickly we forget that just a few months ago, Jeremy Swayman was pitching a contract worth $4.8 million, and Don Sweeney advocated for $2 million. Ultimately, with the aid of an independent legal arbitrator, Swayman was awarded a one-year $3.475 million dollar contract. Given his performance to begin the season, what do you expect Jeremy Swayman to be worth on the open market, given the myriad of teams seeking goaltending support? Better get that checkbook ready, Don.

But back to the topic at hand- facilitating a Linus Ullmark trade, outside of being a short-sighted decision, could have long-lasting negative impacts. If Sweeney were unable to agree on a long-term deal with Swayman this summer the void in their goaltending depth chart would rival that of the leagues worst. Not only that, but pulling the trigger on an early season trade would require some salary cap gymnastics. Boston does not have the horses in the stable to entice a third team to take on cap space, nor should they have the mentality to part ways with the limited assets they currently possess.

But let’s entertain this notion, shall we? 

Earlier this week an account named “Drop the Mitts Hockey” tweeted a hypothetical trade involving Linus Ullmark and Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. In this hypothetical Boston would send the reigning Vezina Trophy winner to Edmonton for a second-line center and a second-round pick. Now, on paper, this move financially works, according to CapFriendly. But, in reality, does it come close to moving the needle?

‘RNH’ is coming off a career best 104 point season, however, his previous career best is 69 points in 2018-19. Additionally, he has failed to eclipse the 60-point threshold in nine of his 13 seasons. Tossing more water on that fire, Linus Ullmark has a modified no-trade clause in his contract, which includes 16 teams in 2023-24; historically, Canadian-based teams account for a hefty chunk of players NTCs. 

Could Boston use some depth at center, sure. But sacrificing one of the league’s top talents at his position for a slight upgrade over Pavel Zacha feels like a stretch. Furthermore, with the Calgary Flames struggles it would appear Elias Lindholm could be changing his area code when his contract expires at season’s end. Even Steven Stamkos voiced his displeasure entering the final year of his deal after failing to come to terms over the summer with Tampa Bay’s general manager Julien BriseBois. This is all to say, if the desire is to beef up down the middle, there could be even greater options in a few months time. Which, and I know this point has been repeated, but I can’t help it, won’t require you to trade the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.

Elliotte Friedman, hit publish on his 32 thoughts blog Thursday morning and his third and fourth thoughts were most intriguing. 

First the former, the temperature has hit critical levels in Edmonton. To the point where they are actively seeking goaltending assistance. Names that have been tossed out there- Jordan Binnington, which Friedman self-admitted unless the St. Louis Blues decided to go belly up; this isn’t realistic. Plus, Binnington’s $6 million contract would likely require Edmonton to send the struggling goaltender Jack Campbell and his $5 million contract to St. Louis, which is a tough sell.

The Montreal Canadiens have been contacted regarding Jake Allen’s availability, which, from the outside looking in Allen makes the most sense. Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators who had a stellar performance against Alberta rival Calgary is seen by many to be the prized possession. However, “nothing is imminent”. Oh look, no mention of Linus Ullmark.

Now, to his fourth thought: “As for (Jack) Campbell, he met with (Oilers general manager) Ken Holland and was told to prepare/play (for Bakersfield AHL) as if there is a road back to Northern Alberta.” So it’s worth assuming the Oilers preferred plan is Jack Campbell finds his game in the AHL while Stuart Skinner and Calvin Pickard work in tandem to steady the ship. 

Hockey’s most treasured commodity is between the pipes. If you are one of the lucky organizations that happens to have two Vezina-caliber players, a rational thought would be to hold steady.

However, enticing it may seem to trade Linus Ullmark at any point during this season that decision would be outrageously shortsighted. That’s saying something for the organization who traded away imminent hall of famer Joe Thornton and superstar in the making Tyler Seguin for pennies on the dollar.

Season 3. Episode 24. Maroon and Gold Day Bruins Benders Podcast

Lyndon Byers called us out! Where is Brad Marchand on the all-time Bruins list? Is this David Pastrnak’s best season? Can the Bruins close games now? Rotating goalies? Danton Heinen for 7th player. Plus, much more!DraftKings Sportsbook – Boston’s hometown Sportsbook is LIVE right here in Massachusetts! Bet local on all your favorite sports from the comfort of your own home with DraftKings. To celebrate, ALL new customers will receive up to TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS in BONUS bets when you sign up for DraftKings Sportsbook using code ITR! You can now bet local on money lines, spreads, props, and more with one of America’s top-rated Sportsbooks – DraftKings Sportsbook!  Download the DraftKings Sportsbook app and sign up with code ITR to get up to TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS in BONUS bets to use now that mobile sports betting is live in Massachusetts. That’s code ITR only at DraftKings Sportsbook. If you or a loved one is experiencing problems with gambling, call 800 327-5050 or visit helplineMA.org to speak with a trained specialist, free and confidentially, twenty four seven. 21+. Physically present in MA. Eligibility restrictions apply. Subject to regulatory licensing requirements. Eligibility and deposit restrictions apply. Opt in required. Bonus issued aree bets. Terms at draftkings.com/MA.
  1. Season 3. Episode 24. Maroon and Gold Day
  2. Season 3. Episode 23. Whoa Nelly!
  3. Season 3. Episode 22. Montgomery Burns
  4. Season 3. Episode 21. Brazen Brazeau
  5. Season 3. Episode 20. Mail it in March

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