Boston Bruins

Could Devils be possible landing spot for Ullmark before trade deadline?

The Devils need a goalie, but will they make a move now or after the season?

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The Boston Bruins need to make upgrades to their roster if they're going to have a strong chance at winning multiple rounds during the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite owning the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 35-13-14, there are still several areas of weakness that must be addressed, most notably the left side of the blue line and additional scoring depth.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, they lack the ideal amount of salary cap space and trade assets to make substantial moves. They don't pick until Round 4 in the 2024 NHL Draft. They don't own a second-round pick until 2026. Their prospect pool consistently ranks near the bottom of the NHL.

The best way to make a meaningful upgrade is by doing a good old-fashioned hockey trade.

"The phrase 'hockey deals' has been thrown around with the Bruins. They don’t have much high-end draft capital, but they do have players," Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman wrote in his 32 Thoughts column Monday. "So it makes sense that if they’re going to make changes, it will involve their NHL roster or those close to it. The reason you’re hearing Linus Ullmark’s name is the calendar will force Boston to make a decision. They’ve begun discussing an extension with Jeremy Swayman and Brandon Bussi soon requires waivers. Something’s going to have to give.

"Like several other teams considering moving a goalie, the Bruins have to decide when is the optimal time to do it. All of a sudden, Fleury and Saros are off the market, and Markstrom’s future is uncertain. So, if someone craves a netminder now, Boston’s in a position to deliver."

Which teams could be interested in Ullmark? Maybe the New Jersey Devils, whose No. 1 weakness this season has been goaltending.

"I was also told Monday that the Devils have looked at Ullmark as a possible option if they can’t swing a deal with Calgary. So stay tuned there," The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun wrote Monday. "Perhaps Ullmark, who’s signed through next season at a $5 million AAV, ends up in New Jersey if Calgary won’t move Markstrom."

A deal involving Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom and the Devils reportedly was close earlier in the year but fell through, ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported last last month. Markstrom is signed through the 2025-26 campaign, so the Flames don't have to rush into a deal.

If the Devils want Ullmark, the Bruins would be smart to try to get Tyler Toffoli (and more) in return. He's the type of reliable goal scorer the Bruins need in their middle-six. The 31-year-old veteran has scored 26 goals in 60 games this season. He scored a career-high 34 goals last season and has tallied at least 20 in four consecutive years. Toffoli also has 88 games of playoff experience and played a key role on the Los Angeles Kings team that won the 2014 Stanley Cup.

The Fourth Period reported Monday the Devils are trying to get Toffoli "locked up to a multi-year contract extension and prefer to hold on to him instead of trading him ahead of Friday’s 3pm ET trade deadline." If the Devils are unable to extend Toffoli, it would make sense for them to trade him and not risk losing the veteran wing for nothing in the summer when he can become an unrestricted free agent.

Tyler Toffoli
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Toffoli has scored 26 goals this season for the Devils. He's also playing on an expiring contract.

The Devils also have to decide whether it's even worth it for them to make a huge in-season move for a goaltender given their playoff odds. New Jersey entered Monday seven points out of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division and eight points behind the second wild card berth in the East. The Athletic's Dom Luszczyszyn gives the Devils just a 15 percent chance of reaching the postseason, based on his model.

Given the Devils' odds to make the playoffs, it probably makes more sense for them to pursue a goalie trade before the draft in June when teams have a better idea of what their roster and salary cap pictures look like.

There are also risks for the Bruins regarding a potential Ullmark trade. Goaltending has been Boston's top strength over the last two seasons, and while Jeremy Swayman has enormous potential, we've still never seen him play more than 41 games in a single regular season. He also doesn't have much playoff experience.

The Bruins don't have many options to clear significant cap space to make a move. Trading a player off their NHL roster would be the most effective way to do that. Whether they can find a trade that makes sense for them remains to be seen. The clock is ticking.

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