In two full seasons in the NHL ranks, Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman has developed into one of the most promising netminders in the NHL.
But at one point, the 24-year-old Swayman thought he was going to be playing for one of the Bruins’ top rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
During an appearance on the “Empty Netters” Podcast last week, Swayman noted that he kept his options open while watching the 2017 NHL Draft from his home in Alaska.
“I was sitting at my breakfast table with my dad, we were four hours behind in Alaska,” Swayman said of his decision to not attend the draft in person. “I knew I wasn’t going in the first round with it being my first year eligible for the draft. There was a lot of hope, but I was a C-rated prospect, so it wasn’t necessary [to go to the draft.]
Even though Swayman was not tabbed as one of the top goalies expected to be plucked off the draft board, he did entertain a number of NHL scouts and other talent evaluators while playing in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League during the 2015-16 season.
One club that regularly kicked the tires on the young goalie were the Maple Leafs. And with Toronto in need of reinforcements between the pipes, Swayman’s agent thought that the Original Six franchise was going to come calling at some point in the latter rounds.
“I got a text from my agent saying, ‘I know Toronto was hot on you during the year. So just be by your phone,’” Swayman said, adding. “So every time Toronto came up, we were like, ‘Alright, maybe we’ll get a call.’”
But when Toronto landed on the clock in the fourth round, it opted to select another goalie, Ian Scott.
“The fourth round came and Toronto was up [at] 110 and they picked a goalie,” Swayman said. “It was like ‘Alright, maybe not this year,’ that kind of thing. Kind of bummed but at the same time hopeful still cause I talked to other teams.”
But Swayman did not have to wait very long for another Original Six team to come calling. Just one pick after Toronto selected Scott, the Bruins selected Swayman with the 111th overall pick.
Because of some poor Wi-Fi issues at the Swayman abode, the Bruins goalie admitted that he only received news of his selection by his friend, who called him while in attendance at the draft in Chicago.
“I get a text and it’s from my buddy actually from Alaska,” Swayman recalled. “He was at the draft and he said, ‘Congrats Sway!’ and I’m like ‘What?’”
After finally getting word from both his agent and the Bruins, Swayman noted that both he and his family were able to celebrate all day, given that it was still the early morning in Alaska when he officially got word.
“We had a pretty good celebration. It was totally unexpected, which is the coolest part,” Swayman said. “I think because you’re so devastated for one second and the next second it’s like a new world opens up. That was a pretty cool experience to share with them, and I’m glad it turned out the way it did.”
The Bruins haven’t regretted the decision to take Swayman in the fourth round. In 88 career games up in the NHL, Swayman is 54-23-7 with a 2.24 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
After being awarded a one-year, $3.475 million contract following an arbitration hearing earlier this month, Swayman is expected to form one of the top goalie tandems in the league alongside Linus Ullmark during the 2023-24 season.
Meanwhile, Ian Scott did not pan out for the Maple Leafs with the 110th pick. The Calgary native fought injuries and only made two appearances in the AHL ranks before announcing his retirement from pro hockey last July.
This is not the first time that the Bruins have benefitted from the Maple Leafs when it comes to plucking potential franchise goalies from their rival’s grasp. Famously, Tuukka Rask was selected by Toronto with the 21st overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, only to be dealt to Boston in June 2006 in exchange for fellow goalie Andrew Raycroft.
The rest, as they say, is history.
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