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Will Senators pursue Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark before NHL Draft?

Will Senators pursue Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark before NHL Draft?

Will Senators pursue Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark before NHL Draft? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

NHL teams in need of an upgrade at the goaltender position would be wise to give Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney a call over the next month.

The Bruins have two of the league's top 15 goalies in Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark. Keeping this tandem could get pretty expensive this offseason, though, as Swayman is eligible for a new contract as a restricted free agent.

If the Bruins and Swayman work out a long-term extension with a salary cap hit of $5 million or above, the team would be using up $10-plus million of salary cap space on goalies for the 2024-25 campaign. Ullmark has one year left on his contract with a $5 million cap hit. That would be a lot of money tied up at the goaltender position, especially for a team like the Bruins that has several roster weaknesses to address in the offseason.

Swayman is coming off an amazing run in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs during which the 25-year-old star established himself as the franchise's clear-cut No. 1 netminder.

The ideal outcome for the B's would be to trade Ullmark before next season. Such a deal could net the Bruins valuable cap space and/or other assets like draft picks or prospects.

Which teams could pursue an Ullmark trade? Keep an eye on a division rival, the Ottawa Senators.

"After failing in a bid to acquire goaltender Linus Ullmark from the Boston Bruins at the NHL trade deadline in March, (Senators GM Steve) Staios and the club’s hockey operations department are expected to make another pitch before the draft set for June 28-29 in Las Vegas," Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun wrote last week.

"The Senators, Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils were among several teams that made a push for the 30-year-old Ullmark before the deadline."

Ullmark has a 16-team no trade list in his contract, and it changes to a 15-team list in 2024-25, per CapFriendly. Therefore, Ullmark has some control over his future if the Bruins try to trade him.

The Senators were expected to make a leap as a franchise and reach the playoffs this past season. But the Senators never came close to earning a postseason berth and finished 13 points behind the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The primary reason for Ottawa's lackluster 2023-24 campaign was poor goaltending. The Senators had an .884 save percentage as a team in the regular season, which ranked 31st of 32 teams.

It's hard to value goalies on the trade market. Very few Vezina-winning netminders ever get dealt. Recent trades involving quality goalies didn't yield amazing returns.

"A league executive said Thursday he believes the Senators would likely have to offer defenceman Jakob Chychrun along with a first-round pick and another selection to acquire Ullmark," Garrioch wrote. "Even then, he has the hammer because he does have the modified no-trade clause."

A first-round pick, another pick, and a legitimate top-four defenseman in Chychrun seems like a huge overpay from the Senators' perspective. Ullmark is a really good goalie and won the Vezina Trophy last season, but that would be a lot for Ottawa to give up, especially when the Swedish netminder is 30 years old and could leave as a free agent next summer.

The Senators have two 2024 first-round picks — their own (No. 7 overall) and the Bruins' (No. 25 overall). Boston's selection was originally sent to the Detroit Red Wings in the Tyler Bertuzzi deal in March of 2023. The Red Wings moved it to the Senators as part of the Alex DeBrincat trade in July of 2023.

If the Bruins could get a first-round pick in exchange for Ullmark, that would be a heck of a return. But the most important thing the Bruins need to acquire in any potential Ullmark trade is salary cap space, because an extra couple million dollars would be pretty helpful in the team's search for additional scoring.

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