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Swayman’s stellar debut highlights Bruins‘ bright future in net originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins farm system isn’t loaded with top-tier talent, but there’s one position that does have exciting potential.

The Athletic ranked Boston’s prospect pool 31st in January and ESPN had the B’s 30th in December. This lack of elite prospects is one reason why pulling off a blockbuster deal ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline could prove difficult for the Bruins.

Goaltender is a different story, though. It’s the one position in Boston’s prospect pool that has high-end talent, and that was on display in Tuesday night’s road game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Jeremy Swayman made his NHL debut and tallied 40 saves on 42 shots in an important 4-2 victory that increased Boston’s lead over Philly for the final playoff spot in the East Division to five points. 

“He was great. Really happy for him, a well-deserved win,” Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. “He was battling all night. He gave us a true chance to win, especially in that second period. That poise was evident from the get-go, the way he prepared in the locker room. He looked ready, he looked calm and he was the same way on the ice. Good for him, and hopefully many more to come.”

Swayman’s best save was a breakaway stop on Flyers center Scott Laughton that turned into a Bruins power-play goal at the other end of the ice:

He faced plenty of adversity Tuesday and responded well. The Flyers out shot the B’s 24-7 and held a 16-6 scoring chance edge during 5-on-5 play in the second period. The Flyers also scored twice to tie the score entering the third period. Instead of wilting under the pressure and Philly’s momentum, Boston’s defense and Swayman regrouped and gave the Flyers almost nothing over the final 20 minutes. The Flyers tallied just three 5-on-5 shots in the third period.

“What an incredible experience. To get a win here in Philly means everything, being the first one,” Swayman said. “My mentality throughout the game was don’t get too high, don’t get too low. I learned that from (assistant coach) Alife Michaud back (at the University of) Maine. That’s going to stick with me for a long time. Just one shot at a time.”

Swayman is one of Boston’s top prospects. He won the Mike Richter Award after a dominant season for the University of Maine in 2019-20. This year he’s posted a 8-1-1 record with a 1.89 GAA and a .933 save percentage for the AHL’s Providence Bruins.

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Swayman and his backup Tuesday, Dan Vladar, could be the B’s goalie tandem next season. Vladar has played excellent this season, too, posting a 2-1-0 record and a .922 save percentage in four appearances.

Veteran netminders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are both unrestricted free agents this summer. If both depart, the Bruins could gain as much as $8 million in salary cap space by replacing them with Swayman and Vladar — who are on cheap entry-level contracts. 

Boston could then use the cap savings to address its two most glaring roster weaknesses — scoring depth up front and acquiring another top-four defenseman. Charlie McAvoy’s next contract also should be a priority in the near term.

Rolling with two inexperienced goalies obviously carries some risk, but if Swayman and Vladar both continue to play well and show veteran poise between the pipes, giving them the keys to the net is something that should be strongly considered.

Either way, the Bruins have a very bright future at the goaltender position. It’s a great spot to be in, especially given the uncertainty of Rask’s future in Boston beyond this season.