Bruins Goaltending, Jeremy Swayman

Bruins and Swayman Arbitration Numbers Revealed

The numbers for Boston Bruins’ goaltender Jeremy Swayman‘s arbitration filings have been announced. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Friday that the Bruins have filed at $2 million while Swayman has filed at $4.8 million. It makes sense that both sides will have varying numbers and though there seems to be a significant gap between each party’s demands, this isn’t abnormal.

Jeremy Swayman Boston Bruins
Jeremy Swayman and the Boston Bruins have both filed their respective numbers for Swayman’s upcoming arbitration case. The numbers differ drastically but both sides will still be aiming to find common ground and solidify a deal. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When looking at comparable contracts that have been signed in recent years by players like Carter Hart ($3.97 million), Jake Oettinger ($4 million) and Spencer Knight ($4.5 million), Swayman’s request really isn’t an unreasonable one. His first two-plus seasons and 88 regular season games have seen the 24-year-old put up impressive peripherals, including a 2.24 goals-against average, .920 save percentage, 32.1 goals-saved above average and a 54-23-7 record. He’s been everything the Bruins could have hoped for and more when drafting him in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Still, the Bruins are pressed up against the salary cap this offseason with just under $5.5 million in available cap space. This doesn’t even factor in that the team already has a franchise netminder in Linus Ullmark signed to a deal worth $5 million in each of the next two seasons. The Bruins would likely prefer a cheaper bridge option for Swayman for this deal before committing bigger money and a longer term to him once their salary cap troubles are gone and the cap in general increases due to the expectation that the escrow debt will be paid off. This, coupled with the fact that teams often settle somewhere in between arbitration filing numbers will explain the clear low-ball number that the Bruins submitted for Swayman.

Expecting Swayman to play for $2 million next season is unreasonable and unrealistic, but that’s not what the point of this number was for the team. Instead, it gave them a chance to likely find common ground in the middle of the two numbers; though any such number will probably still lean closer to Swayman’s than the Bruins. This should be expected, especially after Swayman tied for the fourth-best save percentage in the NHL last season with a .920 mark, tied with Connor Hellebuyck and behind only Ullmark, Filip Gustavsson and Ilya Sorokin.

Bruins Factoring Future Plans in Current Offseason Decisions

The Bruins are in a weird spot this offseason due to the all-in nature of their decision-making last season. This can be debated and discussed ad-nauseam, but the decision was the right one as the Bruins finished with the best regular season record in NHL history. With the window closing on the core of the team and Patrice Bergeron announcing his retirement Thursday, there would have been more complaints about the Bruins opting to not push their chips to the middle of the table than complaints about their current situation after the fact. Because of this, finding affordable deals for the 2023-24 season, and maybe more importantly, deals that don’t affect the long-term plans of the team has been of the utmost importance.

Related: Bruins: 5 Things to Be Excited About for 2023-24 Season

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This is why the Bruins must be careful with any and all transactions that take place and finding the right number for Swayman (and eventually Trent Frederic) is a top priority for the team. While there may be debates about finding a top center, the team is probably fine with their current situation heading into next year as they look to be competitive. The time to retool the roster with a more solidified top option will likely come next offseason; that means that taking care of the internal options that remain should be the focus right now.

The Bruins and Swayman ultimately would love to get a deal done before his arbitration date on July 30. Those meetings aren’t good for the relationship between team and player and even if a deal is struck after the fact, sometimes the damage can be too much to overcome in the long-term. This isn’t always the case, but it’s to be expected that players can feel slighted when a team is tasked with pointing out every single reason a player should not be given the money he thinks he deserves. Time will tell how this plays out, but both sides do seem to want a new deal to be signed and that’s generally good news.

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