How Senators’ trade for goaltender Linus Ullmark could become a steal

Elliotte Friedman joins David Amber to break down the trade that is sending goalie Linus Ullmark to Ottawa, his long-term status with the Senators, and if this trade opens the floodgates for trades over the next few days.

Leave it to the Ottawa Senators to steal a little thunder and lightning from the biggest hockey game in years. 

About half an hour before the puck drop of Game 7 between the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers, the Senators announced a trade they believe will be a salve to their glaring goaltending wounds, acquiring Linus Ullmark from the Boston Bruins in exchange for goalie Joonas Korpisalo, fourth line forward Mark Kastelic and a late first-round draft pick in 2024 (Boston’s original pick, No. 25 overall). 

What a deal.

What a steal. (If there is a new contract to come). 

All Ullmark did in the 2022-23 season was win the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. 

Ullmark, 30,  has one year left in his contract paying him $5 million per season. He is also due a $1-million bonus on July 1. The Senators will certainly pitch an extension to Ullmark to try to keep him in Senators colours for years to come. 

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said during tonight’s broadcast that Ullmark will “play it out” as far as anything in writing past this season. That means the Senators will have to impress their new goalie to convince him to stick around. 

As part of the trade, Ottawa retains one-quarter of Korpisalo’s remaining salary. Korpisalo was signed to a five-year, $20-million contract by previous general manager Pierre Dorion prior to last season. 

To his credit, first-year GM Steve Staios was able to get out from the weight of Korpisalo’s contract without having to buy him out. Paying $1M per year for four years for the sins of his predecessor is more than admirable. 

Staios knew he couldn’t run back with this season’s tandem of Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg. 

In Ullmark, he gets a massive upgrade without giving up a key member of his roster. 

As noted by NHL stats guru Mike Kelly, Ullmark was fifth in goals saved above expected last season and he was second the year before. 

As a team, the Senators finished dead last in goals saved above expected, with Korpisalo and Forsberg getting the bulk of the starts. 

In tandem with Jeremy Swayman, his post-game hugging partner, Ullmark carried a 22-10-7 record with a 2.55 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

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Korpisalo was 21-26-4 with a 3.27 goals-against and .890 save percentage. 

It needs to be said that in 2023-24, the Bruins were one of the league’s better defensive teams while the Senators were one of the worst. 

So, Staios will need to bolster more than the blue paint — but also the blueline in front of it. 

Consider this move the first salvo in an off-season devoted to retooling the roster from the crease out. 

Ullmark is more than just a good goalie off recent career form. 

In six of his seven full NHL seasons, Ullmark has a save percentage of .910 or better.

In nine seasons, Korpisalo only reached the .910 mark three times. 

As well as being technically sound, Ullmark is known for his easygoing nature and ability to stay even-keeled, a trait that served Craig Anderson well when he was Ottawa’s mainstay from 2010 to 2020. 

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Last spring, after causing a turnover behind his net that led to Florida’s overtime winner against the Bruins in Game 5 of their first-round series, Ullmark shrugged off the mistake by invoking Ted Lasso. 

“You just have to have the mind of a goldfish,” Ullmark said, paraphrasing a Lasso quote from the famous TV series. 

Unfortunately for the Bruins, they were unable to shake off the Panthers in that first-round series and they again fell short this season, dropping a second-round series to Florida after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round. 

The Bruins generally alternated their two goalies, but after Ullmark lost Game 2 of that Toronto series the B’s leaned on Swayman the rest of the way. 

Those series losses these past two springs pretty much cinched the fact that the Bruins were going to have to do away with the luxury of their top-flight goalie tandem, with Swayman inheriting the No. 1 position. 

At season’s end, Ullmark repeated what he said at the trade deadline — that he wished to remain a Bruin for at least as long as his contract. 

Over time, he came to see the inevitability of moving on. And was clearly impressed by the notion of what the Senators have going on, signing off on this deal, waiving his no-trade clause for Ottawa. 

If and when the Sens get him to sign off on a new contract, they will really be in business. 

The Athletic has already weighed in with marks for this trade. 

The Times assigned Boston a C. And Ottawa an A. 

Of course, the marks that count are the grades that come off game action. 

And that will not happen for a few months yet. 

In the meantime, Senators fans took time away from Game 7 to express their delight over this deal on social media. 

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