Jeremy Swayman, the college puckstopper who had a glittering career at Maine, will skip his senior year with the Black Bears and turn pro with the Bruins.
His school announced Tuesday that Swayman, 21, signed with the club that drafted him in the fourth round (111th overall) in 2017.
The Anchorage, Alaska product learned earlier that day that he won the Walter Brown Award as New England’s top American-born college player. He is the first Black Bear to win the award since Mike McHugh in 1988. He is one of three finalists for the Hockey East player of the year award.
The Bruins have watched him compete at their last three development camps at Warrior Ice Arena. He is likely to start his pro career with AHL Providence, when the sport resumes.
The varsity is looking for a successor to Tuukka Rask, 33, who has one year left on his contract, and Jaroslav Halak, who turns 35 in May and could walk as a free agent. Dan Vladar, 22, had an excellent year in Providence (1.79 goals against average, .936 save percentage in 25 games), while 21-year-old Kyle Keyser had an injury-plagued first pro season (six games, 3.21, .890). Swayman’s arrival means Max Lagace, a 27-year-old free agent, may not return after an encouraging season (2.37, .919 in 33 games).
Swayman, listed at 6 feet, 3 inches and 200 pounds, lifted Maine (18-11-5) to a fourth-place finish in Hockey East, four spots ahead of their predicted finish in the preseason coaches’ poll.
He ranked second in Division I with a .939 save percentage, which was second-best in school history, and 15th in goals against average (2.07, fourth-best dating to 1977-78). No one made more saves (1,099, a school record) and only four goalies played more minutes (2,060).
He departs as Maine’s all-time leader in saves (3,130) and minutes played (5,906:46). His save percentage (.927) ranks second behind Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (.931). He is fifth in GAA (2.51).