For one, the Bruins signed him to a contract that you don’t usually give just a stopgap netminder: four years, $5 million per season. But perhaps the bigger tell is there were many, many goalies available in free agency this offseason.
Goaltenders of all tiers were available in what was arguably the hottest netminding market in years. Though Ullmark was not the crown jewel, a title that belonged to Phillipp Grubauer, he was in the upper echelon of goalies available.
So, with so many goalies to pursue, why Ullmark?
“He’s big, he stops a lot of pucks way above expected, especially in five-on-five situations,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said about Ullmark on Wednesday. “Both our goalie coaches in Bob (Essensa) and Mike (Dunham) broke down where there might be some deficiencies in Linus’ game. There are fewer than a lot of goaltenders. Then the PK side of things is an area we’re going to shore up with him and how we kill, and address some of those things.
“But overall, he’s in the prime of his career, he’s had a lot of experience. He’s had some injuries we’re going to help him address to be in the best shape going forward and play in a real structured environment which I think he was excited about. He knows what our team is like, playing against it, and he’s excited to be on the inside of it all, playing for the us, and we’re fortunate.”
There is something to be said about the situation he is coming from. Ullmark, 27, has spent the entirety of his career in the Buffalo Sabres organization. The Swede has grown used to having to bail out his defense.
In a more structured, and frankly, talented, system, he should be able to find even more success.