UPDATE (6 p.m. ET): The Boston Bruins traded goaltender Dan Vladar after acquiring veteran Linus Ullmark.
Original story: The Boston Bruins waited until five hours after the opening of free agency to address one of their most glaring needs: A goalie.
They went with a good one in Linus Ullmark.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney had admitted last week that the Bruins would be in the market for a veteran goalie. Tuukka Rask, another unrestricted free agent, won’t be ready for game action until January at the earliest, and it would be risky for the Bruins to roll with just Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar.
It cannot be understated how impressive it is that Ullmark posted a .917 save percentage this past season. The 27-year-old has spent the entirety of his career with the Buffalo Sabres, routinely getting hung out to dry by his substandard defense. That Buffalo team was particularly bad this past season. There is something to be said about a goalie who can just stand in there and take it, and he’s proven he can.
In an ideal world for the Bruins, Swayman shows out in camp and grabs hold of the starting job, leaving Ullmark to be a depth guy. But young netminders are fickle, and just because Swayman was stunningly good last season in a small sample size doesn’t mean he’s instantly going to be Boston’s No. 1. They can rest assured that they have someone capable to hold down the fort no matter what.
It’s also worth noting that Swayman does not need waivers to get sent down, so the possibility is there for an Ullmark-Vladar tandem to start the season. In the event Rask comes back, the Bruins could roll with Rask-Ullmark, which is basically the caliber of backup Rask has had the last four years between Jaroslav Halak and Anton Khudobin.
The Bruins’ situation in net this season likely will be changing constantly. But at long last, they know who will be at their disposal.