It is crazy to think that Jeremy Swayman is still a rookie. From his very first few games almost a year ago, he has immediately made an impact on the Bruins, solidifying his role as the team’s seemingly goalie of the future.
After a blazing start at the end of last season, Swayman has avoided the struggle that can follow young goalies after a great start to the career (look at Carter Hart with the Philadelphia Flyers). Even with a blue line that hasn’t played as well this season as it has in past years, he’s pulling out wins and putting up great numbers.
The 22-year-old is making a solid case to be the de facto number one goaltender for the Bruins, and is honestly making a run at a Calder Trophy finalist spot. If the team plays this right, they may be set in net for many years to come.
Road to the NHL Draft
Swayman was born Nov. 24, 1998 in Anchorage, Alaska. The state of Alaska is, of course, not super well known for being the birthplace of NHL players. Besides him, other notable NHL players from Alaska include Scott Gomez, Nate Thompson, Brandon Dubinsky, and Matt Carle.
Swayman began his Juniors career playing for Alaska All Stars. He made the move down to the lower-48 in the 2015-16 season when he made the move to play for the Pikes Peak Miners in Colorado. In the 2016-17 season, signing with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. In 32 games that season, he had a goals against average (GAA) of 2.90 and a save percentage of .914.
Going into the 2017 NHL Entry Level Draft, Swayman was the 12th-ranked North American goaltender. He was noted for being an active goaltender, but wasn’t making the same headlines as fellow American, Jake Oettinger, who went in the first round to the Dallas Stars, or Finnish goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who went in the second round to the Buffalo Sabres.
Swayman was liked by the Bruins’ coaching staff who were interested to see how his game would grow at the University of Maine. The team selected him in the fourth round at 111th overall.
Making a Name in Maine
The University of Maine was the perfect spot for Swayman. He started all three seasons of his college career there. His first season, 2017-18, saw him play in 31 games with a GAA of 2.72 and .921 save percentage. He took a short break from the team to play for the United States at the 2018 World Juniors Championship. He played in one game at the tournament and posted a shutout.
In 2019-20, his final season, He won the Mike Richter Award, which is annually awarded to the nation’s best collegiate goalie. In 34 games that season, he had a GAA of 2.07 and a .939 save percentage (SV%). He finished with an 18-11-5 record, and was also a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which is presented annually to the “best” collegiate player in the U.S. Fellow Alaskan, Matt Carle, won the award in 2006.
Professional Hockey in a Pandemic
The COVID pandemic has brought more than its fair share of hardships. For Swayman, he made the switch from collegiate hockey to professional hockey right in the middle of it all. Moving to a new city, being called up and down between Boston and the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL), are all things that are tough enough in a normal situation, let alone in a pandemic.
But, the 2020-21 season provided the opportunity for Swayman to make a name for himself in the NHL sooner than expected. When Tuukka Rask was injured and Jaroslav Halak tested postive for COVID-19, the door was opened for him to make his debut, and it was certainly an impressive one. He made 40 saves in the team’s Apr. 6, 2021 matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers, playing a huge role in their 4 – 2 win.
Swayman didn’t look back from that point on. In his first 10 career games, he went 7 – 3 – 0 with a GAA of 1.50 and a save percentage of .945. He played himself into the backup role for the 2021 Playoffs, getting an opportunity to learn from Rask, one of the bests.
What He Brings to the Bruins
The 6-foot-3 goaltender has really been special for the Bruins this year and is one of the bright spots in an up and down season. In 24 games this season, he’s 13 – 7 – 3 with a 1.95 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
He is a tremendous competitor and has made the best of every situation. In January, Swayman was sent back down to Providence during the temporary return of Rask to the lineup before he retired. Where some may be discouraged, he took it all in stride. He had the below quote for the media.
“They believe in me, it’s a great organization up there. I believe in them, and I want to be a Bruin for a long time and they do, too.”Joe Kayata
Swayman displayed great maturity with his brief stint to providence. In five games, he had a GAA of 2.18 and a .911 save percentage. With Rask’s retirement, he’s been brought back up to Boston and has taken his play to the next level in the recent stretch. He was recently awarded the NHL rookie of the month for February, where he posted a 5-1-1 record with .960 save percentage and a 1.13 GAA. His most recent win was a 7-0 shutout against the Los Angeles Kings where he registered 34 saves.
Swayman is the goaltender of the future for Boston, barring any incredible misfortune or ridiculous dropoff in skill. At 22, if the Bruins play their cards right, they should have a solid decade before they need to be looking for their next goaltender.
It truly is fortunate for the team that a fourth-round pick has worked out this well. In all honesty, Swayman is one of the best draft selections General Manager Don Sweeney has made in his tenure, only really second to Charlie McAvoy.
The Bruins are fortunate. Goaltending has not been the biggest issue with this team in the past 10 years, and the team should be set for the next 10 as well.
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I’m Hannah Garfield, a graduate of Elon University with degrees in Film and Media Analytics. Currently, I’m pursuing my MFA in Screenwriting at Boston University. I’m a lifelong, passionate Boston sports fan and love all things Bruins.