Bruins

Bruins free agency spree brings goalie Linus Ullmark, forward Nick Foligno, and others to Boston

Then-Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark makes a glove save against the New Jersey Devils on April 8, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes


The Bruins made a flurry of moves Wednesday, the first day NHL teams could sign free agents this offseason. General manager Don Sweeney was set to discuss the deals with the media Wednesday evening.

Here’s a roundup:

• With goalie Tuukka Rask’s future unclear after hip surgery and former backup Jaro Halak off to Vancouver, the Bruins invested in their goaltending.

Linus Ullmark signed a four-year, $20 million deal. His $5 million annual salary cap hit is nearly double the $2.6 million Ullmark made last year.

It also likely means the Bruins see Ullmark as a No. 1 going forward, and have no plans to rush Jeremy Swayman, the rookie whose brief stint last year opened eyes and whom does not require waivers to move back and forth from Boston and Providence.

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The Bruins also traded goalie Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a third-round draft pick in 2022.

Conceivably, the door would be open for Rask, 34, should he want to sign at a short term and smaller amount than his eight-year, $56 million deal that expired this week. Rask is not expected to be healthy until the second half.

Ullmark, who turns 28 on Saturday, appears to be a legit No. 1. He had a .917 save percentage and 2.63 goals against average in 20 games with Buffalo last year, playing behind one of the league’s worst teams. The career-long Sabre has a .912, 2.78 in six seasons, with a 50-47-13 record.

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Ullmark’s 2020-21 season – in which he went 9-6-3, while all other Sabres goalies went 6-28-4 – ended early because of a lower-body injury that he apparently suffered in Boston on April 13. It was his last game of the year.

• The Bruins reportedly signed Nick Foligno, the former Columbus captain who ended last year with Toronto. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch said the deal was for two years.

In a TSN interview, Foligno said he thought about returning to the Maple Leafs, where his father, Mike, grew up and spent part of his NHL career. But “talking with Patrice [Bergeron] and [general manager] Don Sweeney,” he said, Boston “felt like the place I was going to have the most impact.”

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Foligno, a 14-year vet, will be 34 in October. A left shot capable of playing all three forward spots, his production has declined over the last several seasons, down from a high of 31 goals and 73 points in 2014-15. At this stage, he is relied on mainly for checking and disruption. But Foligno has a reputation as an intelligent, disciplined player who can chip in with secondary offense.

“Playing against those guys, they play a hard, heavy game and a structured game, and that’s the way I like to play,” he said. “It felt like the right team to join at this point in my career. I like the direction they’re trying to go, talking to Don, and what they’re trying to do right now.”

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A career 11.5 percent shooter, his rate dipped to 7.6 percent and 8.6 percent over the last two seasons. It’s possible he could reach 15-20 goals if that percentage rebounds.

Foligno has a connection to Boston via his daughter. In 2016, Foligno and his wife, Janelle, donated $500,000 to Boston Children’s Hospital, where in 2013 their newborn daughter, Milana, had heart surgery to correct a congenital defect. The Folignos made a matching donation to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

According to a 2016 Globe story, Milana, who turns 7 in October, was born with a malformed, leaking heart valve that doctors here made whole by inserting a tiny, expandable stent.

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In last year’s playoffs, an upper-body injury knocked Foligno (0-1–1 in four games) out of the Leafs’ seven-game loss to Montreal.

“That was one of the most frustrating times of my career,” he said on TSN. “You go somewhere so excited, feel like you’re getting a foothold on the team, and then it comes crashing down with my injury … it took a little time to get over.”

• The Bruins boosted their forward group by signing winger Erik Haula, who played for the Predators last season, a league source confirmed to the Globe. Haula got a two-year deal with a $2.375 million annual average value. Haula will make $2.25 million in the first year, and $2.5 million in the second.

Haula, 30, scored 29 goals and had 55 points in 2018 as one of the original Golden Knights. The Finnish attacker has put up 76 points in 162 games since, a 38-point pace, bouncing from Carolina to Florida to Nashville. He broke into the NHL in 2013 with Minnesota, as a rookie with Bruin Charlie Coyle.

• On defense, the Bruins’ replacement for Seattle expansion draft loss Jeremy Lauzon is Derek Forbort, according to multiple reports. Forbort came up with the Kings and spent last year with Winnipeg. Forbort (2-10–12 in 56 games) is 29, a left shot, and large (6-feet-4 and 216 pounds). With Lauzon gone, Kevan Miller retired, and Jarred Tinordi unlikely to return, Forbort will pick up heavy penalty-killing duty. Last year, he was tied for 24th in the league in PK time on ice (2:43 per game).

• The Bruins lost energetic fourth-line center Sean Kuraly, who signed a four-year deal with his hometown Columbus Blue Jackets at $2.5 million per. Kuraly, who arrived here as a prospect in 2015, played 270 games and put up a 24-44–68 line. He produced 9-10–19 in the playoffs, including some memorable goals against Ottawa (2017) and Toronto (2019).

• The Bruins didn’t land Blake Coleman, but won’t have to deal with him in the Atlantic Division. The former Tampa third-liner bolted west to Calgary on a six-year deal worth $4.9 million a season. Boston was rumored to be one of Coleman’s preferred few destinations.

• Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who spent the last three seasons here in a time-share with Tuukka Rask, will play in Vancouver on a $1.5 million deal, with bonuses.

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