Senators acquire goaltender Linus Ullmark from Bruins

senators acquire goaltender linus ullmark from bruins

Linus Ullmark.

With Jeremy Swayman set to land what’s expected to be a significant contract as a restricted free agent this summer, it has been widely expected that the Bruins would be moving out Linus Ullmark.

That move has now happened as Ullmark has been moved to Ottawa in exchange for the 25th pick in the NHL Draft, goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and forward Mark Kastelic. Both sides have announced the swap which also sees the Senators retaining 25% of Korpisalo’s contract.

Ullmark has spent the last three seasons with Boston after signing a four-year, $20M contract with them in free agency back in 2021. It’s fair to say that the move worked out quite well for both sides.

After struggling with inconsistency throughout his time in Buffalo, the 30-year-old has become one of the top netminders in the NHL. In 2022-23, he played in a platoon with Swayman but was nothing short of dominant, winning 40 of 48 starts while posting a league-best 1.89 GAA and a .938 SV%. That helped him earn his first career Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s Goalie of the Year.

Not surprisingly, those numbers dropped this season although coming off the year he had, that was to be expected. Even so, Ullmark was still above average, putting up a 2.57 GAA with a .915 SV% in 39 starts. However, he was limited to just two postseason appearances (one start) with Swayman getting the bulk of the workload.

With Swayman set to command a long-term deal and having arbitration eligibility for the second year in a row, it wouldn’t have been feasible for Boston to keep both netminders in the fold.

Doing so would have made them one of the highest-spending teams on goaltenders which would have cut into their flexibility to fill some other needs this summer.

Meanwhile, from Ottawa’s standpoint, a move to shore things up between the pipes has been an annual occurrence recently with middling results at best.

Last summer, Korpisalo was brought in on a five-year, $20M contract following a strong bounce-back year with Columbus and Los Angeles. However, instead of turning things around in goal, he struggled considerably, posting a 3.27 GAA and a career-worst .890 SV%.  Boston will assume a $3M cap charge on Korpisalo for the next four years while Ottawa will carry $1M of dead cap charges for that time.

They’ll be hoping that in a better-structured system, he could put up similar numbers to the ones he put up with the Kings down the stretch in 2023, another defensive-oriented team.

Unfortunately for Ottawa, Anton Forsberg didn’t fare much better; while his GAA was a little better at a still-below-average 3.21, his save percentage also checked in at .890. Meanwhile, their potential goalie of the future Mads Sogaard also struggled, coming up with a 4.05 GAA and a .859 SV% in his six NHL appearances. Knowing that, many expected that they would be making another attempt to upgrade in goal this summer; Ullmark certainly represents one.

The Sens were believed to be interested in acquiring Ullmark during the season although that never came to fruition with Ottawa believed to be on Ullmark’s partial no-trade list. Evidently, he had a change of heart to help facilitate the move.

Once July 1 comes around, Ullmark will become extension-eligible as he’ll officially be in the final year of his contract. No informal agreement is in place yet although Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reports that the two sides are working on getting an extension in place.

If that happens, he’d become their long-term starter with Sogaard likely getting the full-time promotion to the NHL to serve as his backup starting in 2025-26 after Forsberg’s contract comes to an end.

Meanwhile, Boston is also adding a rugged fourth liner in Kastelic. The 25-year-old played in 63 games with the Sens this season, collecting five goals, five assists, 63 penalty minutes and 126 hits while averaging a little less than eight minutes a night. For his NHL career, Kastelic has 25 points and 331 hits in 144 games with Ottawa.

He’s signed through the upcoming season at a $835K cap charge and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at that time so he could be in their plans for a couple of years at least. The Bruins have several pending unrestricted free agents up front so Kastelic will be taking the place of one of those players.

Boston will also get to do something they haven’t been able to do lately and that’s draft in the first round. Assuming they hold onto the pick, this will be the first time that they picked on the opening day of the draft since 2021 when they took Fabian Lysell 21st overall.

Interestingly enough, that pick has been well-traveled. It’s Boston’s own selection but they originally moved it for Tyler Bertuzzi at the 2023 trade deadline. Detroit then sent it to Ottawa as part of the Alex DeBrincat trade last offseason and now it has returned to the Bruins.

The move winds up being relatively cap-neutral for both sides. In the end, Boston saves $1.165M with the swap, bringing their cap space for this coming summer to just under $21.6M, per CapFriendly.

Meanwhile, the Sens are now down to $11.3M, per CapFriendly. We’ll find out in the coming days how the teams plan to spend the bulk of those funds.

Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald was the first to report that Ullmark was heading to Ottawa.

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