Boston Bruins: Swayman, Vladar Making Tuukka Rask’s Future Unsure


The Boston Bruins picked up a monumental 4-2 victory in opposition to the Philadelphia Flyers final evening, with Patrice Bergeron scoring the sixth hat trick of his profession and Brad Marchand notching yet one more shorthanded aim. The Bruins now sit 5 factors forward of the Flyers and New York Rangers for the fourth and remaining playoff spot within the MassMutual East Division.

Whereas Boston’s recognized commodities introduced the scoring, rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman had the sport of his life in his first NHL begin. He confronted 42 photographs and stuffed 40 of them, probably the most saves in a Bruins goalie’s debut since Andre Gill’s 41 saves all the way in which again in 1967. As the fellows embraced him after the ultimate horn sounded, it was clear that they had been each grateful and impressed with the rookie’s historic effort.

Jeremy Swayman completed second in NCAA DI Males’s Hockey with a .939 save proportion on the College of Maine in 2019-20. (Maine Athletics)

Swayman’s play was particularly spectacular, contemplating the circumstances. Jaroslav Halak was anticipated to begin, however a sudden optimistic COVID-19 take a look at derailed these plans and compelled Swayman into the beginning position. This isn’t how he anticipated his first call-up to the principle roster to play out, however he took all the things in stride and placed on a stellar efficiency.

Regardless of studies from a month in the past concerning the Bruins’ need to re-sign each Tuukka Rask and Halak, whose contracts finish this season, Swayman and fellow prospect Dan Vladar are giving them a cause to rethink the matter. They’re the long run in web, and the long run is correct across the nook.

Goalie Prospects Impressing

Though informal followers grew to become acquainted with Swayman for the primary time on Tuesday, these aware of the Windfall Bruins know that this child can play. He has registered some spectacular numbers in his 9 AHL begins this season: 1.89 targets in opposition to common (GAA), .933 save proportion (SV%), and eight wins in addition.

Though he’s solely 22 years outdated, the Anchorage, Ala. native has proven nice poise and maturity within the minors. He’s basically sound, by no means overplays the puck, and is rarely caught out of place. He confirmed these traits in opposition to the Flyers, closing up the five-hole and having the wherewithal to step out of the online on Philadelphia’s many breakaway scoring possibilities. He was giving Scott Laughton suits, a lot to the delight of Bruins followers.

Vladar has additionally turned heads in his 4 begins this season, posting a 2.25 GAA and a .922 SV% – each higher than Rask and Halak’s season averages. Whereas it’s admittedly a small pattern dimension, he has handed the attention take a look at with flying colours.

Dan Vladar Providence Bruins
Dan Vladar has put his physicality and athleticism on full show in his 4 begins for the Bruins this season. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The very first thing that catches the attention is Vladar’s dimension. At 6-foot-5, he takes up a substantial quantity of the online and is aware of how you can use this to his benefit. He plugs up the aspect of the online from prime to backside, leaving no room for short-side alternatives. His lengthy wingspan additionally permits him to make stick and glove saves from nearly any angle, as we noticed in his first begin of the season in opposition to the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 16.

His numbers with the P-Bruins inform the identical story as Swayman: this man is able to take the subsequent step. He went 14-7 with a 1.79 GAA and .936 SV% within the 2019-20 common season, all monumentally higher than his 2018-19 numbers. He simply retains getting higher, and his confidence seems to be at an all-time excessive.

If the Bruins’ skaters may keep on their ft (we’re taking a look at you, Bergeron and Jakub Zboril), these final two video games would have been much more spectacular for Vladar and Swayman. That’s the nature of the goaltending place, although. They’re typically put in troublesome spots however are nonetheless anticipated to ship. Each of those younger prospects have definitely delivered, and they’re making their instances to be mainstays on the Bruins’ roster as early as subsequent season.

Rask’s Future Up within the Air

An upper-body damage has been nagging Rask and protecting him out of the lineup. He has performed by means of accidents earlier than, however the 34-year-old is beginning to present some put on and tear. Bruce Cassidy just lately admitted that his restoration has been slower than anticipated, and he isn’t certain when Rask will likely be able to return.

Rask’s well being is only one situation, although. Along with his contract expiring on the finish of this season, basic supervisor Don Sweeney and firm will face a troublesome contract negotiation. His present cap hit is $7 million, and whereas it looks as if Rask is prepared to take a pay minimize to stick with Boston, the query is how a lot?

Sweeney is lastly beginning to crack beneath the strain of his personal incompetency within the free agent market. He can (and may) make a push for some high-profile offensive items this summer time to enhance Boston’s getting old core. There may be additionally the scenario with David Krejci to consider. If the cap hit for these signings is important, will there be room for Rask to get his justifiable share?

Tuukka Rask Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask’s eight-year $56 million contract involves an finish this summer time, leaving his future with the Bruins up within the air. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Swayman and Vladar’s cap hits – each beneath $1 million – give Sweeney and mates much more room to pursue offensive expertise, which the Bruins desperately want. Their championship window may very well be expanded by one other few years if the best strikes are made.

In fact, there’s additionally the looming risk of retirement. Rask confirmed us in 2020 that he’s prepared to step away from the sport for the sake of his personal well being, and he may very properly make that call once more this summer time, given his nagging damage. He and the Bruins would love to stay collectively, however it could seemingly be a one-year deal within the $4-6 million vary, possibly even much less. Rask may resolve that such a contract is just not value jeopardizing his long-term well being.

One factor is definite: if the Bruins deliver again the Finnish netminder, we will kiss Halak goodbye. Vladar and Swayman are higher, cheaper choices for the backup position at this level and have proven that they will step in and begin on any given evening.

The Future Appears to be like Vivid

The Bruins are in comparatively good condition in the case of cap area, so I’m optimistic that Boston and Rask can agree on a good deal, assuming he will get wholesome. He’s definitively the man in web, as long as he’s carrying a Bruins’ uniform.

Nonetheless, the uncertainty surrounding Rask’s well being and his upcoming contract negotiation raises the chance that he’ll not be carrying a Bruins’ uniform subsequent season. Ought to that occur, Boston has two younger, hungry prospects ready within the wings, and they’re making it a lot simpler for Boston to contemplate parting methods with him.

Whether or not it’s the basically sound Swayman or the bodily gifted Vladar, both selection is a worthy choose to be Rask’s successor. This can be a good drawback for the Bruins’ entrance workplace to have, and they need to be thrilled that they’ve an abundance of expertise at an important place within the sport.


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