Bruins’ braintrust says off-season priority is signing goalie Jeremy Swayman

Boston Bruins' Jeremy Swayman makes a glove save during the third period in Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Boston. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

BOSTON — Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is ready to go with a goaltender rotation again next season — “if we can make the math work.”

Sweeney said Wednesday his priority this summer is to sign goalie Jeremy Swayman to an extension, preferably avoiding the arbitration process that left the 25-year-old Alaskan embittered last summer.

“It’s clearly a priority, and Jeremy knows,” Sweeney said at the end-of-season media availability with the team’s front office. “He’s a big part of our current team and our future.”

After serving as the No. 2 to Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark in Boston’s record-setting 2022-23 season, Swayman failed to come to terms on a long-term contract last summer and was awarded a $3.475 million contract. His reaction: “I don’t want to do it ever again.”

This season, Swayman was 43-25-10 with a 2.53 goals-against average while alternating with Ullmark during the regular season. The plan was to do the same in the playoffs; after Ullmark lost Game 2 of the first-round series against Toronto, Swayman started the rest of the way, going 6-6 with a 2.15 GAA.

“I’m a little disappointed still that we’re not playing,” Bruins president Cam Neely said Wednesday, five days after Boston was eliminated by the Florida Panthers in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. “But I’m excited about the off-season.”

A year after being named the NHL’s top goalie, Ullmark went 39-22-10 with a 2.57 GAA in the regular season. He is scheduled to make $5 million next season and has said he would like to remain in Boston.

“If we can make the math work, we’re going to have the best tandem. If we can’t, we’re going to explore,” Sweeney said, adding that Ullmark could change his mind and ask to be traded somewhere where he could play more.

“Right now, he’s really happy. We were very happy to sign Linus. And in a perfect world, we would keep the tandem, because I think it’s damn good,” Sweeney said. “But we’re going to explore opportunities. My phone’s going to ring. I’m going to make calls. That’s just what the job requires.”

Sweeney said the goaltender logjam is not a problem to be solved as much as an opportunity to be mined. Once Swayman is signed, the team will consider whether it can afford to spend upwards of $10 million on goalies or make a trade to shore up other areas of need.

“Our goaltending is arguably one of the best tandems in the National Hockey League. And, they proved that during the course of the season,” Sweeney said. “They put us in a situation most nights to have an opportunity to win.”

Meanwhile, CEO Charlie Jacobs said at the news conference that Sweeney, Neely and Montgomery have ownership’s complete confidence. Montgomery said there were no plans for changes on the coaching staff.

Sweeney said he was pleased with Brad Marchand’s first year as captain, saying the player who was known around the NHL as a face-licking trouble-maker grew into the role.

“Everybody knows Brad’s personality. He’s going to look to embrace everything and shoulder everything he possibly can. … Everything is sort of amplified with Brad, which is such a positive attribute of his,” Sweeney said, adding that Marchand learned to incorporate other voices in the locker room as well.

“That’s indicative of a guy who was growing into leadership,” Sweeney said. “Not feeling like he has to suffocate the room, that it’s an extension of what he’s trying to accomplish as a leader himself.”

Neely also commented on the team’s record-setting seven penalties for too many men on the ice during the playoffs.

“Seven is a lot. There’s no question. You’ve got to kill off 14 minutes of penalties that you shouldn’t be taking,” he said. “I mean, one or two you can understand. But there’s clearly some miscommunication. … Seven is way too many to have happened, there’s no question about it.”

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