Thursday, July 18, 2024

NHL trade grades: Senators get Linus Ullmark from Bruins for Joonas Korpisalo

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The trade

Senators get: Goalie Linus Ullmark

Bruins get: Goalie Joonas Korpisalo (Senators retain 25 percent of salary), center Mark Kastelic, first-round pick (No. 25) in 2024.


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

The Bruins likely didn’t want to move on from Linus Ullmark. He was an elite 1A in 2022-23 when he saved 38 goals above expected in 49 games on his way to a Vezina Trophy. Then he was a stellar 1B to Jeremy Swayman this past season.

But the fact is that Swayman is the Bruins’ future, not Ullmark, and the rest of the league knew that. Swayman’s excellent regular season and postseason confirmed it. With Ullmark’s contract expiring in 2025, the clock was ticking to make this move.

So Boston did lose some leverage. And Ullmark’s control in the situation added another hurdle — he had a 15-team no-trade list which limited the Bruins’ options. If the idea was to include a contract extension in the trade, their options would have dwindled even more.

But at the end of the day, the 25th pick in the NHL Draft on Friday, Mark Kastelic and Joonas Korpisalo combined don’t equal nearly the value Ullmark brings to a lineup. And none of these pieces address Boston’s most pressing needs upfront.

Maybe the 25th pick could be flipped. Maybe Korpisalo could be serviceable behind Swayman — the Bruins’ defense is a lot closer to the Kings, which he thrived behind, than Ottawa’s. Or maybe he could be flipped once more, with another chunk of his salary retained. Maybe Boston just buys him out.

But maybe shouldn’t be good enough for a team’s top trade asset and one of the best goalies on the market, even with all leverage considerations in mind and no contract extension.

On the flip side, the Senators are a pretty perfect landing spot for Ullmark. Ottawa had one of the weakest creases in the league this past season with Korpisalo, Anton Forsberg and Mads Sogaard allowing a collective 26.7 goals above expected. They were a top team to acquire a goaltender this summer if they could move out Korpisalo’s contract which proved to be a complete disaster in Year 1.

Managing to move Korpisalo out and bring back Ullmark in one shot is a huge win. The Senators need two things this summer: Difference-makers who will help push them over the hump as soon as possible, and stability in goal. Ullmark should accomplish both. The one question is how he will fare behind the Senators’ defense since the Bruins were a very solid defensive team in front of him the last two years. But it’s a bet worth taking considering what they were working with before the trade.

Would it help to have a contract extension in place? Sure. But it also doesn’t hurt that the Senators aren’t overcommitting to another big contract after moving out one that could have sunk them.

The cost is really nothing to shrug at for Ottawa either, even with the 25 percent salary retained for Korpisalo. The Senators have spent years collecting draft picks and bolstering their prospect pipeline. Moving on from the 25th pick is just fine for a team that still has the seventh pick, which has a much better chance of delivering value in the near future.

Bruins grade: C
Senators grade: A

(Photo of Linus Ullmark: Bob DeChiara / USA Today)

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