On Monday, Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark was awarded the Vezina Trophy and named the NHL’s best goaltender. The next day, Ullmark was rumored to be a trade candidate this summer. After a horrific collapse in the first round of the playoffs, Boston’s front office is aggressively shedding salary and is looking to trim the fat in net.
It crossed my mind. I’m not going to lie, it’s the business part of it. That’s what we live in. When you have two goalies that are so close and it comes to stats, there’s got to be some changes. There’s a personal side to it and there’s a business side to it. You’ve got to honor it. That’s just how being a professional hockey player is.- Linus Ullmark, Bruins goalie
Naturally, after the Stanley Cup is handed out, league GMs begin crunching numbers and yanking their hair out. We’ve heard it every offseason, the NHL is a copycat league. The champion Golden Knights are the newest club in line to be mimicked by desperate front offices.
First and foremost, the Stanley Cup winners debunked one of the league’s biggest playoff myths. The Golden Knights became league champs with a low-salary goalie tandem. In years past, even Vegas believed in paying goalies above market prices. Remember the $12M in goal the Golden Knights’ front office allocated in 2020-21? Well, they clearly learned from that unnecessary investment. Other teams noticed as well.
"There's some really talented players out there… Especially when it comes to goalies, there's a lot of goalies out there."@FriedgeHNIC believes things will pick up around the league next week. @JamieHersch | @EJHradek_NHL | @Rupper17 | #NHLNow pic.twitter.com/mpK3LoBJ3Z
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) June 23, 2023
Several NHL teams are taking the Golden Knights’ salary relief approach this offseason.
Offseason Salary Dumps/Impasse
- Boston traded Taylor Hall ($6M AAV) & Nick Foligno ($4M AAV) for Alec Regula and Ian Mitchell
- Calgary traded Tyler Toffoli ($4.25M AAV) for Yegor Sharangovich and 2023 3rd Round Pick
- Nashville traded Ryan Johansen ($8M AAV) for Alex Galchenyuk
- Philadelphia traded Kevin Hayes ($7.1M AAV) for 2023 6th Round Pick
It began by jettisoning Nate Schmidt and Paul Stastny in 2019, Marc-Andre Fleury in 2021 and Max Pacioretty in 2022. Even this year after winning, Vegas wasted no time in shipping off Reilly Smith for a 3rd round pick. While those decisions looked controversial at the time, clearly shedding past salaries made way for a 2023 Golden Knights championship roster. Now, other teams are gladly paying off other teams to dump inflated contracts. The future might be ignored but the strategy resulted in a Stanley Cup for the Golden Knights.
Good luck to the GMs trying to copy VGK’s championship run.