Saturday night’s mutual National Hockey League season-opener between the Dallas Stars and the Boston Bruins at TD Garden in Boston could have been a special evening for University of Maine hockey fans.
It could have featured a match-up of two of the school’s best former goaltenders who are at different stages of their careers.
But Dallas’ Ben Bishop, who led UMaine to its last Frozen Four appearance in the 2006-07 season, continues to recuperate from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, so he can’t square off against Jeremy Swayman, if Swayman were to get the starting nod for the Bruins.
Swayman is one of five former Black Bears who is on an NHL roster as the season gets underway this week.
The 22-year-old Swayman, who won the Mike Richter Award given to college hockey’s best Division I goalie (2019-20), was 7-3 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .945 save percentage as a rookie for the Bruins a year ago.
But the Bruins signed Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract in the offseason. Swayman is making $925,000 on his rookie contract.
Swayman had better numbers in the preseason, posting a 1-0-1 record with a 1.99 GAA and .932 save percentage compared with Ullmark’s 0-0-2, 3.90 and .839 but the Bruins may go with the more experienced Ullmark, especially considering the financial investment they have in the 28-year-old Swede.
Bishop does intend to return to action this season. The 34-year-old Bishop is a three-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the NHL’s best goalie.
He has played 413 career games and has a 228-126-36 record with a 2.32 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
Bishop missed the 2020-21 season, as did former Black Bear star and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Gustav Nyquist.
The 32-year-old Nyquist underwent shoulder surgery but will be in the lineup on Thursday when the Blue Jackets face the Arizona Coyotes in their opener.
Nyquist — who, like Swayman, is a former Hobey Baker Award finalist — has played in 570 NHL games and has tallied 146 goals and 202 assists. He has scored 20 or more goals in a season four times.
Nyquist was inducted into the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame in September.
Twenty-seven-year-old center Devin Shore will again suit up for the Edmonton Oilers after notching five goals and assisting on four others a year ago.
Edmonton began its season against Vancouver on Wednesday evening.
Shore has appeared in 326 NHL games and has 44 goals and 71 assists.
Former UMaine defenseman Brady Keeper had a shot to crack Vancouver’s lineup but suffered a broken leg during training camp when he blocked a shot.
Keeper is on the Canucks’ injured reserve list and may or may not return this season after having surgery on the leg.
The 25-year-old Keeper had played in two games for the NHL’s Florida Panthers but didn’t register a point.
Former UMaine winger Ryan Lomberg has returned to the Panthers after appearing in 34 games for them a year ago with two goals and two assists.
Florida faces Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Veteran defenseman Ben Hutton, who played for Toronto last season, is a free agent.
Among other former Black Bears involved in the NHL in other capacities, Jack Capuano is an assistant coach for the Ottawa Senators, Dave Nonis is a consultant to the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks and a special assignment scout and longtime NHL coach John Tortorella, who stepped down as the Columbus coach after last season, has launched a career as an NHL analyst for ESPN.