In two full seasons, 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. “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 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 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. “So every time Toronto came up, we were like, ‘All right, 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.
“It was like, ‘All right, maybe not this year,’ that kind of thing,” said Swayman. “Kind of bummed, but at the same time hopeful still ‘cause I talked to other teams.”
Swayman did not have to wait 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 Wi-Fi issues, Swayman said, he received news of his selection from a friend, who called from 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 said he and his family were able to celebrate all day, given that it was still morning in Alaska when he got word.
“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. In 88 games 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 this month, Swayman is expected to again be part of one of the top goalie tandems in the league alongside Linus Ullmark.
Meanwhile, Scott did not pan out for the Maple Leafs. The Calgary native fought injuries and made only two appearances in the AHL before announcing his retirement from pro hockey last July.
This is not the first time 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 pick in the 2005 draft, only to be dealt to Boston in June 2006 for fellow goalie Andrew Raycroft.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Conor Ryan can be reached at email@example.com.