Canucks Bruins Hockey

The Bruins traded goalie Linus Ullmark to the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Steven Senne/Associated Press

The Bruins pulled the trigger on the long-awaited Linus Ullmark trade and got themselves a first-round pick, though it didn’t come without a cost.

The Bruins dealt the 2022-23 Vezina Trophy winner to the Ottawa Senators for the Sens’ second first-round pick (25th overall) that was originally the Bruins’ pick, as well as goalie Joonas Korpisalo and bottom six forward Mark Kastelic. Ullmark, who will be going into the final year of his contract that carries a $5 million cap hit, does not have an extension in hand with the Senators.

The Bruins were without a pick in the first three rounds of this weekend’s draft, so this should help to restock the prospect pool, which needs replenishing.

But the fly in the ointment is Korpisalo’s deal. He has four years left on a deal that carries a cap hit of $4 million per season. The Senators will be retaining 25% percent of Korpisalo’s deal but it still chews into the savings of moving Ullmark.

This will be Korpisalo’s fourth NHL team. He got a five-year, $20 million contract from Ottawa off the strength of his best NHL season in 2022-23, which he split between Columbus (.913 save percentage and 3.17 GAA in 28 games) and Los Angeles (2.13, .921 in 11 games). But after he went 21-26-4 with a .890 save percentage and 3.27 GAA in Ottawa, the Sens clearly had some buyer’s remorse. We’ll see if he can be more effective in a backup role to Jeremy Swayman, who is expected to sign a large extension that should chew into a large amount of the Bruins cap space ($21,599 million, according to capfriendly.com).

One would have to believe that for GM Don Sweeney to pull the trigger on the Ullmark, he’d have to feel confident that a deal for Swayman is close to being done.

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The 6-foot-4 226-pound Kastelic, a physical center/wing, has one year left on a deal that has a cap hit of $835,000. In 144 NHL games, he has 14 goals and 11 assists. The 25-year-old Kastelic has also fought some of the league’s heavyweights, so that may be a clue as to what interested the Bruins.

Earlier in the day, the Bruins signed goalie Brandon Bussi, 25, to a one-year, two-deal worth a cap hit of $775,000.

Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Western Michigan in the spring of 2022, the Sound Beach, New York native has yet to play in the NHL but has proven to be a good netminding prospect in Providence.

In his first full pro season in 2022-23, he was 22-5-4 with a .924 save percentage and 2.40 goals against average. This past season, he was 23-10-5 with a .913 save percentage and 2.67 GAA.

At the time of the signing, it appeared as though Bussi had the inside track to the backup duties, but now it looks like he’s the darkhorse candidate to unseat Korpisalo. Bussi will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot more on Sweeney’s plate between now and the start of free agency on July 1. Sweeney will not speak to reporters until he does his pre-draft presser on Thursday in Vegas.

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The Bruins have seven unrestricted free agents who were regulars they’ve yet to sign, the most prominent of whom is winger Jake DeBrusk. While still an inconsistent scorer, the B’s have developed DeBrusk into a well-rounded player who is one of the first over the boards for the penalty kill. While team president Cam Neely talked about adding speed to the lineup at the team’s annual post-mortem press conference in May, DeBrusk is one of the team’s fastest forwards. He’s also proven to be a good playoff performer, leading the B’s in playoff scoring in the spring (5-6-11 in 13 games).

But the closer we get to July 1 and he’s not re-signed, the greater the chance he goes elsewhere and there’s another hole to fill.

Other UFAs-to-be are Danton Heinen, Patrick Maroon (the Kastelic acquisition could spell his departure), James van Riemsdyk, Derek Forbort, Matt Grzelcyk and Kevin Shattenkirk. Of that group, Heinen would appear to be the player the Bruins would most likely want to re-sign, though a deal has not happened yet. Milan Lucic, who played just four games before suffering an injury and then getting arrested for an alleged domestic violence incident (the charges were later dropped) is also a UFA that the Bruins are not expected re-sign.

Whatever happens, it should be an eventful couple of weeks for the Bruins as Sweeney tries to retool his team into a legitimate contender again. But unlike last summer, he’s got some money with which to play now.

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