Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Bruins trade Linus Ullmark to Senators for 2024 first-rounder, Joonas Korpisalo, Mark Kastelic

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The Boston Bruins have traded Linus Ullmark to the Ottawa Senators for the No. 25 pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, Joonas Korpisalo and Mark Kastelic. The Senators are retaining 25 percent of Korpisalo’s contract.

Korpisalo, 30, is entering the second season of a five-year, $20 million contract. His adjusted cap hit is $3 million with the retention.

There is no extension in place for Ullmark, 30, who is entering the final season of his four-year, $20 million contract.

Why did the Bruins move Ullmark?

The Bruins were searching for a trade partner for months. Their intention was to deal Ullmark before the March 8 trade deadline to firm up other parts of their roster before the 2023-24 playoffs. Neither Ullmark nor general manager Don Sweeney would confirm that the goalie exercised his partial no-trade protection to stay with the Bruins. Sweeney said that under ideal circumstances, the Bruins would keep Ullmark and Swayman together for one more season.

With the trade market expanded heading into the 2024 offseason, the Bruins found their preferred partner and return. By dealing Ullmark, they get back into the first round. It was the pick they traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Tyler Bertuzzi. The Bruins save $1.165 million in the transaction. Kastelic is signed for $835,000 annually, per CapFriendly. He scored five goals and five assists in 63 games in 2023-24.

Ullmark, the 2023 Vezina Trophy winner, is motivated to rebound after being cast aside in the playoffs. His only postseason start was in Game 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1. Before the trade, Ullmark said he was intent on completing a “revenge tour” with the Bruins in 2024-25. —Fluto Shinzawa

What does it mean for the Bruins in net?

The transaction also clears the way for Swayman to become the clear-cut No. 1 goalie for the first time in his career. The 25-year-old made it known in the playoffs that he can thrive under the strain of greater responsibility. Brandon Bussi has had the inside track of being Swayman’s understudy in 2024-25. Bussi, 25, has yet to make an NHL appearance. Korpisalo could be veteran insurance or could be moved, waived or bought out.

Bussi signed a one-year, two-way, $775,000 contract Monday.

The Bruins can also use part of Ullmark’s savings toward Swayman’s new contract. His one-year, $3.475 million deal is expiring. Swayman is eligible to file for arbitration for a second straight season. Sweeney said he prefers not to go through the process again. —Fluto Shinzawa

Why did the Senators make this move?

Steve Staios’ first significant move in the general manager’s chair is going to land well with Senators fans who have been craving an upgrade in net.

And it was no secret that Ottawa desperately wanted to address their goaltending situation this off-season. At a season-ticket-holder event earlier this month, senior vice president of hockey operations Dave Poulin told the crowd, “We have to improve our goaltending situation. Can that come from the two goaltenders we have? It can, but I think that’s still to be determined.”

Ottawa had the league’s worst save percentage last season at .884, with Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg struggling to meet expectations. They played a significant role in Ottawa missing the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season.

The goaltending position has been a carousel in Ottawa since Craig Anderson departed after the 2019-20 season. They’ve experimented with the likes of Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Cam Talbot, Filip Gustavsson and Marcus Hogberg, but each has failed to provide stability in the crease.

Ullmark, on the other hand, is one year removed from a Vezina Trophy season and posted a .915 save percentage while going 22-10-7 in 40 games for the Bruins. He will undoubtedly become Ottawa’s No. 1 goalie in 2024-25 and if he stays healthy, he should hit the 50-game mark for the first time in his career.

The Senators were able to land Ullmark without giving up any of their core pieces — including Shane Pinto, who many in Boston were clamoring for in a return. General manager Steve Staios managed to hold onto his No. 7 overall pick, instead flipping Boston their original 25th overall pick as part of the package.

Ottawa fans will likely give Staios high marks for his ability to flip out Korpisalo – while retaining only 25 percent of his salary – and landing Ullmark in one singular move. —Ian Mendes

What happened with Korpisalo in Ottawa?

When Pierre Dorion signed Korpisalo to a five-year, $20 million contract a few hours after free agency opened last July 1, the Ottawa general manager was optimistic that he had solved Ottawa’s neverending problem in the crease.

“Over the last few years, goaltending was our biggest need,” Dorion said on July 1, 2023. “We feel we addressed it today.”

But Korpisalo struggled out of the gate with Ottawa last season. He gave up five goals in his Senators debut in Carolina and never seemed to get comfortable for long stretches in Ottawa. Korpisalo won only 10 out of 23 games at home last season, sporting an .882 save percentage in the process. He finished near the bottom of virtually every goaltending metric, including ranking 97th out of 98 goalies in goals saved above expected (-16.7).

There were a lot of Ottawa fans who were pushing for the club to exercise a buyout on Korpisalo’s contract this week. But doing that would have meant the club would have been on the hook for paying him over an eight-year period, with a cap hit of close to $1.3 million in most of those years. Now they only owe Korpisalo $1 million per season over the next four years – which is a lot easier to digest. —Ian Mendes

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(Photo of Linus Ullmark after winning the Vezina Trophy in 2023: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

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