Jeremy Swayman is the future master of the blue paint for the Boston Bruins. Everything he has done in 9 NHL games this season is worthy of phenom status. His numbers to date are even better then the shiny numbers he put up in the AHL through his first 9 games.
Not since Frank Brimsek have the Bruins had such a promising young netminder and I say that with all due respect to Tuukka Rask.
The numbers are eye popping: 9 games played, 7 wins, 2 losses, a goals-against-average of 1.44 and a save-percentage of .946 and two shutouts in those 9 matches.
Swayman is having fun. He’s smiling, laughing, engaging in a friendly manner with the on-ice officials and contrary to what any other goalie who has ever played in the shootout era NHL, loves shootouts. The personality is there, the calmness is there and most importantly, the skill is there.
It’s almost a foregone conclusion that if something were to happen to Rask in the playoffs, or if he needs a game off here or there, that Swayman will likely man the net for the Bruins over Jaroslav Halak.
But this is where we have to put on the brakes. It may very well be that the business side of hockey is what determines Swayman’s status for the 2021-22 season.
If you are a believer that General Manager Don Sweeney will bring Rask back and re-sign him, which this writer believes to be the case, that signing won’t happen until after the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. The reasoning for waiting is a simple one: They wouldn’t have to protect Rask from being selected by Kraken GM Ron Francis and could then protect Dan Vladar.
The situation is a simple one then with Rask, Vladar and Swayman in the fold for next season. Only one of the three is waiver exempt for the 2021-22 season and that’s Swayman.
I’m not so sure Sweeney wants to risk losing Vladar on the waiver wire – and truth be told, there would be more then a few teams interested. Sweeney took a risk after the Vegas Golden Knights expansion trying to sneak Malcolm Subban through waivers and he lost as the Golden Knights nabbed him. That forced Sweeney to go out and sign undrafted free agent netminder Kyle Keyser who I might add, I also believe in.
The only safe bet and protection Sweeney has is to have Rask and Vladar man the net for the Bruins while Swayman gets to be the guy in Providence.
No doubt the general consensus is going to be “Dom has lost his mind.” Maybe so. But I ask you to put yourself in Sweeney’s shoes. Are you going to risk losing a goaltender that you’ve invested 6 years on to develop him to this point? And a goaltender who at worst could be a capable NHL backup and form a tandem with Swayman in the future?