Boston Bruins

Report: Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark used no-trade clause to block move

Despite rumors surrounding Ullmark, the former Vezina Trophy winner was not traded.

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The Boston Bruins didn't trade goaltender Linus Ullmark before Friday's 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline despite plenty of rumors and speculation throughout the last few weeks.

Goaltending has been the strength of the Bruins all season thanks to the tandem of Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. Boston ranks No. 3 in save percentage and No. 8 in goals allowed. But sometimes you have to subtract from an area of strength to address another area of weakness on your roster.

Ullmark is signed through next season with a $5 million salary cap hit. The Bruins didn't have many assets to use in deals to upgrade their roster. Boston's lack of draft capital, salary cap space and top-tier prospects was always going to make it difficult on general manager Don Sweeney to pull off major moves. The best way to create cap space was to trade players off the NHL roster. Clearing Ullmark's cap hit could have allowed the Bruins to make other moves.

Trading Ullmark wasn't as simple as finding another team willing to acquire him. The veteran goalie has a no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to veto a deal to 16 of the other 31 teams.

ESPN's Kevin Weekes reported Friday that Ullmark nixed a trade "in large part based on geography.” Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli reported Friday that there was a potential Bruins-Kings trade involving Ullmark that didn't go through. It's not known if Weekes and Seravalli were talking about the same trade, but it would make sense if it was.

When asked about trade talks involving goaltenders, Sweeney made it clear that he's comfortable with where the team currently stands at that position.

“I made no bones that if I had to rob from a real strength of this hockey club, that was something we may have to do if it made our team ultimately better. And we didn’t move in that direction," Sweeney said Friday at a press conference. "That’s not an indictment on the two great goaltenders we have. It’s actually been a real strength of our hockey club from Day 1, and it'll continue throughout. We feel very comfortable each and every night.”

Did Ullmark nix a deal using the no-trade clause in his contract? Sweeney wouldn't answer.

“I mean, at the end of the day, I'm not ever going to get into a conversation with what I may have talked to Linus about," Sweeney said. "I acknowledge we've explored different situations. And we had opportunities to move different players, but I'm not getting into the, you know, the intricacies of what's in somebody's contract at this point in time.”

The Bruins didn't have to trade Ullmark before the trade deadline. He's not a free agent this summer. If they do want to make a move, they can revisit it around the NHL Draft in June or free agency in July. There are teams that will need a goalie upgrade going into next season, and with the salary cap increasing by a couple million dollars for 2024-25, it will be easier for teams to absorb Ullmark's $5 million cap hit.

So what happens now?

The Bruins will continue to use the tandem strategy that has worked so well over the last couple seasons. Swayman has played 36 games and Ullmark has played 31. Having a top 10 goalie available every night is a luxury no other team has, which gives the Bruins a real advantage, especially in back-to-back situations.

The real question is whether the Bruins will continue to use a goalie rotation in the playoffs. Head coach Jim Montgomery talked earlier this season about doing that come playoff time. But it's one thing to discuss it in early January and quite another to actually implement it when the time comes.

Regardless, the Bruins' goalie tandem will remain intact for at least the remainder of the 2023-24 season. And it needs to continue to be the Bruins' No. 1 strength because this team isn't good enough to make a deep playoff run with average or worse goaltending.

Chris Gasper and Mike Felger share their reactions to a report that the Bruins nearly traded goalie Linus Ullmark
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