The Boston Bruins have added another player to their goalie pool by signing the unrestricted free agent Linus Ullmark to a four-year deal worth $20 million. His contract carries an Annual Average Salary of $5 million, a significant increase from the $2.26 million deal he signed with the Buffalo Sabres in 2020-21.
Ullmark carried a depleted Sabres club until an injury in April cut his season short. His record through 20 games was 9-6-3, with the team winning just another six games without their star netminder between the pipes. Even in a small sample of what could have been, Ullmark posted a 2.63 goals-against average (GAA) and .917 save percentage (save%).
From Number 163 to Number 1
The Buffalo Sabres selected the native of Lugnvik, Sweden, with the 163rd pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He remained in Sweden for several seasons playing for Modo Hockey of the Swedish Hockey League before signing his entry-level deal in 2014.
Related: 2021 NHL Free Agent Signing Tracker
Ullmark didn’t come to North America until 2015-16, spending a brief 28 games in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Rochester Americans. He earned an emergency call-up job that season with Buffalo, producing an 8-10-2 record in 20 games. The club’s goalie of the future had a 2.60 GAA and a .913 save% in his debut campaign.
Ullmark played the bulk of the next two seasons in the AHL (with Rochester) while Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson handled the goaltending duties in Buffalo. When both players departed after the 2017-18 season, Ullmark finally had his chance to be a 1A/1B tandem with Carter Hutton, a new acquisition in the offseason. That campaign was rough on Ullmark as he adjusted to the workload (37 games), seeing only a slight increase in GAA and a decrease in save%.
Since landing a chunk of the starting duties with the Sabres two years ago, Ullmark’s numbers have stayed consistent with a respectable 0.916 save% and 2.66 GAA in 54 games. His record in those contests was 26-20-6.
Free Agency Steal
There were many high-profile free agent goalies available this year, while Ullmark laid low under the radar. Several media sources believed he would be a steal no matter where he signed. The 27-year-old has played only 117 games but has a skillset to earn and keep a starting job on any club in the league. This move is a great pick-up for Boston since veteran Tuuka Rask remains unsigned and is coming off a surgical procedure expected to keep him out of action until January 2022. Ullmark will mostly likely split duties with rookie Jeremy Swayman, who filled in admirably for the club in 2020-21.
Boston acquired a goalie who proved that he could carry a team on a nightly basis. Some goalies would buckle under that kind of pressure, but Ullmark just continued to do what he does best: stop pucks and keep his teammates in close games with ease and confidence.