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Bruins Start Exciting Week by Re-signing Brandon Bussi

The Boston Bruins may have secured their future backup goalie by re-signing Brandon Bussi on Monday.

Although Linus Ullmark remains on the roster, the Bruins signed Bussi, 25, to a one-year, two-way contract with a cap hit of $775,000. Bussi, an undrafted free agent from Western Michigan, joined the Bruins in spring 2022. While he hasn’t played in the NHL yet, he has shown promise with the Providence Bruins.

In his first full professional season (2022-23), Bussi achieved a 22-5-4 record, a .924 save percentage, and a 2.40 goals-against average. Last season, he recorded a 23-10-5 record, a .913 save percentage, and a 2.67 GAA. Bussi seems to be the frontrunner for the backup position, but the Bruins might still sign a veteran goalie, similar to their approach two years ago with Keith Kinkaid while Jeremy Swayman was still developing.

Swayman, now the presumed No. 1 goalie and a restricted free agent, needs a new contract, likely around $8 million per season. Bussi’s affordable deal could allow the Bruins to maintain similar spending on goaltenders as last season.

This plan hinges on trading Ullmark and his $5 million cap hit for the upcoming season. The Ottawa Senators, in need of goaltending, have shown the most interest, possibly offering their 25th overall draft pick or offensive defenseman Jakob Chychrun in return. Ottawa also holds the seventh overall pick, but the Bruins currently lack a pick in the first three rounds of this weekend’s draft.

Negotiations between the Bruins and Senators have yet to yield a deal, possibly due to complications with extending Ullmark’s contract. The Bruins might be pushing for Ottawa’s seventh overall pick, leading to potential last-minute negotiations during the draft on Friday in Las Vegas. Other teams, such as the Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, and Detroit Red Wings, could also be interested in Ullmark.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney faces additional tasks before free agency starts on July 1. The team has seven unrestricted free agents (UFAs) to address, most notably winger Jake DeBrusk. DeBrusk, though inconsistent, has become a well-rounded player and a key penalty killer. If he remains unsigned by July 1, the chances of him leaving increase.

Other UFAs include Danton Heinen, Patrick Maroon, James van Riemsdyk, Derek Forbort, Matt Grzelcyk, and Kevin Shattenkirk. Heinen seems the most likely to be re-signed, though no deal has been made yet. Milan Lucic, who played only four games before an injury and legal issues, is not expected to be re-signed.

The coming weeks promise significant activity for the Bruins as Sweeney works to retool the team into a contender, with $21 million in cap space to utilize, a stark contrast to last summer’s constraints.

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