The Bruins have brought back Tuukka Rask, a move that will shake up the goalie depth chart in Boston.
One result of Rask's return is rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman going down to the AHL's Providence Bruins, which general manager Don Sweeney confirmed Tuesday night.
"I had a conversation with Jeremy this afternoon," Sweeney told reporters on a Zoom call. "He'll be reporting to Providence. Jeremy is actually not eligible for the taxi squad, should we have an injury or (a COVID-19 situation)."
Swayman going to Providence is not a surprise at all. Rask and veteran goalie Linus Ullmark are the Bruins' best and most experienced players at the position. Swayman also doesn't need to pass through waivers to go to the AHL, while Ullmark has a no-movement clause in his contract.
Why Bruins signing Tuukka Rask to cheap contract was no-brainer move
What was Swayman's reaction to the team's decision?
"(He was) disappointed. Not overly surprised, based on how it was trending and how it was tracking for Tuukka's health and potential availability," Sweeney said. "We didn't necessarily have a timeline. The plans we sort of laid out were disrupted, so I'm not going to apologize for not announcing what our plans are. Internally we knew what the plans were, even though it kind of went sideways with the cancellations of recent games in Providence. But Jeremy took it in stride as a professional.
"He's extremely motivated to be a top-flight goaltender, which we believe in. He knows that. The commitment we made to him, part of it was this summer in trading a good young goalie in Dan Vladar and allowing Jeremy to even play opening night, for that matter. He knows he's a big part of our current team, as well as moving forward. Most importantly, he's got a hell of a long career in front of him as a Boston Bruin."
Bruins have struck gold with Hall-Pastrnak combo on new-look second line
Any time a young player has success early in his NHL career and is sent down to the AHL -- for any reason -- it can often be a difficult thing to deal with. Sweeney is confident Swayman will take advantage of this opportunity, improve his skills and be ready when the next chance to play in Boston arrives.
"I think the single biggest thing that came out of my conversation today was he just stared at me and said, "Well, if those two guys struggle, do I get the net?" And that's what you want to hear from a player, and any young player who has confidence in himself and has had some success and will accept the fact that he's got some things to work on," Sweeney said.
"But in a competitive environment where we're trying to win, the best players are going to play, and I don't think Ullmark and Rask would look at it any differently. Hopefully, it's just a bump in the road for him -- it's not a huge setback. It's a matter of getting some experience. There are some areas of his game we'd like him to continue to work on. He's going to be a goalie for us for a long time, and that's ultimately what the message was."
Sweeney said Rask will be the backup and that Ullmark will start Wednesday night when the Bruins host the rival Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. Therefore, it's possible Rask could start Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, an opponent he's dominated in his career with a 19-2-4 record and a .927 save percentage.