Bruins Should Have Confidence With Their Goaltending Depth

Going into the 2022-23 season, the Boston Bruins are set in goal. Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark formed a formidable tandem in their first season together in 2021-22. They also formed a special bond as they split the season and after every victory, would have their customary hug.

Bruins fans got to see the hug 51 times last season and how many more they see this season will depend on the health of both players. Swayman has remained healthy in his first year and a half in the NHL, but the same can’t be said for Ullmark. Prior to signing as a free agent with Boston in the summer of 2021, the former Buffalo Sabres netminder battled injuries during his time in Western New York.

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The Boston defense will begin the season shorthanded without the services of Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk, which will put a lot of pressure on the two goalies. If one of them ends up missing time with an injury, then things could get a bit uncomfortable for the Black and Gold as there is not a lot of depth behind Swayman and Ullmark currently in the system, but there is experience. Here is a look at the goaltenders who could make their way to Boston this season should an injury occur.

Keith Kinkaid

It was a very quiet offseason for Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney, mostly because he had nearly no cap space to make additions. On the first day of free agency in July, Boston announced that they agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with veteran goalie Keith Kinkaid that carries a $750,000 NHL average annual value (AAV).

Keith Kinkaid Boston Bruins
Keith Kinkaid, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The 33-year-old Kinkaid spent last season with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the American Hockey League (AHL). In 37 games for the New York Rangers minor league affiliate, he finished with a 2.94 goals against average (GAA) and a .904 save percentage (SV%). In nine seasons, he has played in 167 NHL games combined with the New Jersey Devils, Rangers, and Montreal Canadiens. In these games, he has a 2.92 GAA and a .905 SV%. In the Bruins’ 2-1 preseason loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sept. 24, he stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced.

Kinkaid is not going to move past Swayman or Ullmark on the depth chart, but having an experienced veteran as your No. 3 goalie is not a bad situation for the Bruins to be in, especially with Ullmark’s injury history.

Kyle Keyser

Over the last three seasons, Kyle Keyser has been hanging around the Bruins system, mainly getting time with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL). He did make an appearance as a backup last season on the Bruins’ West Coast trip through Western Canada, but never got into a game.

Kyle Keyser Boston Bruins
Kyle Keyser, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Like Kinkaid, Keyser carries a $750,000 AAV in the NHL if he’s called up and is in the final year of his contract. In 33 games last season in Providence, he had a 2.75 GAA and a .908 SV%. Keyser will spend time this year with Providence and the Maine Mariners in the ECHL. He split the preseason opener against the Flyers and stopped 13 of the 14 shots on him. Behind Kinkaid on the depth chart, Keyser is another goalie that has the experience that could be meaningful in a spot appearance this season. He played three seasons with the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and in his final season in 2018-19, he had a career-low 2.75 GAA and a .915 SV% in 47 games.

Brandon Bussi

Following his senior season at Western Michigan University last March, the Bruins signed Brandon Bussi to a free agent contract and he played in five games for the P-Bruins. Now, the 24-year-old will get his shot in his first full season of pro hockey after four seasons with the Broncos.

Bussi is 23 years old and it remains to be seen where he stands long-term in the plans of the Bruins, but he can make a case over the next couple of seasons to be Jeremy Swayman’s backup in the future with Ullmark entering his second year of a four-year contract. Ullmark won’t be with Swayman forever and sooner or later, someone young will have to step in the role with Swayman down the line.

In the big picture, the Bruins are hoping that they don’t have to dip down to the minors to call up any of these players. If they do, then Kinkaid would most likely be called up first to back up either Swayman or Ullmark. What this list does tell us is that Swayman is most likely the goalie of the future in Boston as Ullmark has three years remaining on his current contract, but at some point, having your backup goalie making $5 million a season is a lot of money tied up to a backup netminder. This is where Keyser or Bussi come in down the line.

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