The Boston Bruins and their fans aren’t alone in expecting big things from Linus Ullmark.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski on Tuesday included the Bruins goaltender on his list of 10 breakout candidates for the 2020-21 NHL season.
Ullmark joined the Bruins last month as a free agent, filling their need for an experienced netminder. He’s the seasoned veteran in Boston’s goalie tandem, which also includes Jeremy Swayman.
“The offseason had so many blockbuster transactions that many overlooked the Bruins passing the torch to Ullmark, on a four-year deal with trade protection,” Wyshynski wrote. “While the door isn’t closed on Tuukka Rask coming back in some capacity after hip surgery, this kind of commitment tells you they believe the 28-year-old can take the crease.
“There’s evidence to that end. Ullmark has put together two straight strong seasons on terrible Sabres teams, including a 9-6-3 record and a .917 save percentage last season for a team that had a .330 points percentage in the standings. He saved over 10 goals above average for the second-worst defensive team in the NHL (3.50 GAA). Ullmark is now playing for a team that was fourth in GAA (2.39) and, more importantly, second on the penalty kill (86 percent) after having Buffalo’s 26th-ranked penalty kill drag down his stats.
“This feels like an NFL team taking a solid quarterback from a mediocre team, sticking him in a time-tested system and watching him turn into an All-Pro.”
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Bruins fan who doesn’t want that to come to pass, and Ullmark himself revels in the high expectations supporters have for him.
However, Ullmark first must establish himself as Boston’s No. 1 netminder in training camp and preseason. And he probably will have to outperform Swayman over the course of the season in order to retain that place in the pecking order.
If Ullmark manages to do just that, there’s no reason why he won’t justify his place on Wyshynski’s list.