Thursday, July 18, 2024

Ottawa Senators get goalie Linus Ullmark in deal with Bruins

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The Senators got goaltender Linus Ullmark on Monday night in exchange for goalie Joonas Korpisalo, centre Mark Kastelic and the No. 25 overall selection in this year’s draft.

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Thirty minutes before one of the biggest games in National Hockey League history, the Ottawa Senators pulled off one of the most significant deals in the history of the franchise.

The Senators finally got their man by acquiring goaltender Linus Ullmark from the Boston Bruins on Monday night in exchange for goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, centre Mark Kastelic and the No. 25 overall selection in Friday’s first round of the NHL draft.

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It’s the first major move Steve Staios, the club’s president of hockey operations and general manager, has made since he took on the dual role with the franchise on Nov. 1, and it came only minutes before the puck was dropped in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in Sunrise, Fla.

On the surface, this deal looks like a steal for the Senators because they gave up a goaltender they didn’t want and a centre they’ve been trying to trade for months, and were also able to retain the No. 7 overall selection they have in the first round of the draft Friday in Vegas.

Postmedia was first to report in March that the Senators had inquired about Ullmark at the trade deadline, then confirmed earlier this month that Staios had revisited those talks with general manager Don Sweeney.

Though the Senators were hoping to have a contract extension in place before making the deal, that wasn’t the case and there have been no formal talks with Ullmark’s Sweden-based agent Joakim Persson.

The belief is the attention will turn to those talks in the coming days, and if it happens it will likely be north of $6 million per season. Ullmark had to wave his no-trade clause to come here, but is excited about the challenge of suiting up for the Senators.

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Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg were ranked among the worst goalies in the league last season, not only with their goals-against average but also in save percentage. To make matters worse, they combined to give up a goal on the first or second shot of the game 22 times.

Under the terms of the agreement with the Bruins, the Senators will pick up 25 per cent ($4 million) of the $16 million left on Korpisalo’s deal. That’s better than the option of buying him out and means the Senators will only carry the $1-million salary hit for the next four seasons.

Speaking at a season-ticket holder event recently, Dave Poulin, the club’s senior vice-president, told the fans that the club’s hockey operations department knew it had to improve the goaltending.

While the Senators made a push for Ullmark at the trade deadline in March, the club wasn’t able to get a deal in place with the Bruins, and that’s why Staios revisited these discussions because Ottawa needed to upgrade the net badly.

The Senators, Kings and Devils were among several teams that worked hard to acquire the 30-year-old Ullmark in March. The indications are Ullmark refused to change his 14-team no-trade list, which meant a possible deal was scuttled, but that wasn’t with the Senators.

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Making $5 million heading into the final year of his deal, Ullmark split the duties with Jeremy Swayman in the regular season, but made only one start in the playoffs.

The market for Ullmark was shrinking before the Senators stepped up to make the deal. The Detroit Red Wings and Vegas Golden Knights kicked the tires on Ullmark, but clearly this deal made the most sense to the Bruins.

Boston lost two contenders for Ullmark last week after the Devils acquired Jacob Markstrom from Calgary and the Kings picked up Darcy Kuemper from the Washington Capitals.

The indications were the asking price was high, but it dropped because the market was limited for Boston. League executives say the Bruins have been scouring the market for a centre, and that’s why they settled on taking on the final year of Kastelic’s one-way contract.

Boston had asked for restricted free agent Shane Pinto, but we’ve been told the Senators have indicated to teams they have zero interest in moving him.

Ullmark said last week he had enjoyed his time in Boston, but was prepared for a new start if he got dealt.

“I love being in Boston and being a Bruin, and it’s been three great years,” Ullmark said. “As much as you have this feeling that this might be my last season or next season might be my last season, you never know. I just always try to do my best and be professional.”

This is a move the Senators hope will help the club lift the Stanley Cup someday.

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