The Boston Bruins enjoyed a record-setting season, only to go out in heartbreak. They’ve fallen on hard times, and may not be able to keep Jeremy Swayman. The team has under $6 million to sign Swayman and fellow RFA Trent Frederic.
The Boston Bruins were one of the biggest surprise teams in the NHL in the 2022-23 season. The team had an aging core and questionable depth, and their pre-season betting odds to win the Stanley Cup were +2800. Those odds had them sandwiched between the likes of the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues. Things were looking just OK in Beantown, until they became the best regular season team of all time with a 65-12-5 record, and saw Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark win the William M. Jennings Trophy on the league’s top defensive team.
Ullmark ended up winning the Vezina Trophy after the ridiculous season he had, but Jeremy Swayman again proved himself as one of the league’s top young goalies. After going 7-3-0 in 10 games in the 2020-21 season, Swayman has won 20 or more games in each of the last two season. And, he’s managed to do whilst splitting time almost evenly with Ullmark.
Now, Jeremy Swayman finds himself at a bit of a career crossroads. Because he has proven himself, he could easily command top dollar from any team in the league and become a true workhorse for a team that needs one. The problem is that the Bruins have just $5.4 million in cap space to tie down both Jeremy Swayman and Trent Frederic. Patrice Bergeron just retired, but there’s been no official word on whether David Krejci will return to Boston or not in 2023. He’ll need to get paid too.
The Bruins have already lost Taylor Hall, Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway, Nick Foligno, and Connor Clifton, so they won’t be anywhere near as deep of a team as this past year. For the sake of keeping their team competitive, they might need to cut corners on salary cap where they can.
Trading Jeremy Swayman away might make sense, if the return is right. After months of trade speculation, the Philadelphia Flyers still have Carter Hart, who might present the Bruins with a cost-effective option.
Carter Hart is signed for just under $4 million for the 2023-24 season, and will become an RFA after that. Hart and Jeremy Swayman are the same age, but Hart is still under contract and Swayman is not. Right now, Swayman definitely has the better long-term outlook as a team’s franchise goalie.
Carter Hart might have the benefit of playing for a worse team as a long-time Flyer, but his numbers haven’t been up to Jeremy Swayman’s snuff since 2019. Hart’s best season came in 2019-20 when he went 24-13-3 with a save percentage of 0.914. Jeremy Swayman’s career-low save percentage in a season is 0.914 (2021-22).
Jeremy Swayman has learned a lot under the tutelage of Tuukka Rask, Linus Ullmark, and late mentor Red Gendron, so it might be time to take a leap of faith and ask to become a team’s number one goaltender. Swapping Carter Hart for Swayman would be a business trade for both teams: Swayman gives the Flyers a bonafide franchise goalie while Hart gives the Bruins a reliable, high-upside backup in the short-term with potential to be a franchise goalie himself in the long-term. Hart won’t require the lion’s share of ice time as long as the Bruins still have Linus Ullmark.
In addition, the Flyers might be willing to eat some more salary from the Bruins to sweeten the pot. The Flyers still have $2.9 million in cap space and only need to sign Morgan Frost. If Ryan Ellis goes on LTIR again, that’ll give the Flyers another $6.25 million in wiggle (negotiating) room.
The prospects of this kind of trade are certainly unlikely, but at this juncture, anything can happen. It’s been a weird NHL offseason so far, to say the least.