The Boston Bruins have bought themselves peace of mind with Tim Thomas taking a year away from hockey, as they re-signed their other all-world goaltender today, backup Tuukka Rask.
BOS and netminder Rask agreed to terms on one-year, $3.5M deal.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 28, 2012
The move is essentially a no-brainer for the Bruins. Realistically, Rask is a starting goaltender on almost any other team in the NHL. Many forget that part of the reason Thomas was relegated to the bench in 2009-10 is because of Rask’s dominance of NHL shooters during his rookie year. He was the only goaltender in the NHL with a sub-2.00 GAA that season and had a save percentage of .931. His “sophomore slump” in 2010-11 consisted of a still pretty good 2.67 GAA and .918 save percentage before he “rebounded” with a 2.05 GAA and .928 save percentage last season.
Read: He’s really good and his ‘slumps’ still have him among the respectable goaltenders in the NHL.
Rask has already proven that he can be a starting NHL goaltender. There’s not nearly as much mystery with him as there is with a ‘tender like Cory Schneider or Anders Lindback. Some of his numbers are surely bolstered by the presence of Thomas despite his struggles in 09-10, but anyone who has ever seen Rask play can attest to the fact that he is an elite talent. He is exceptional at letting pucks hit him.
The one year length of this deal appears to account for two variables.
The first pertains directly to Rask’s performance — namely, how will he hold up under what could be a workload that is upwards of 60 games with Anton Khudobin as the prospective backup. All signs currently point to very well and if that holds up Rask will be poised for a big payday a year from now.
The other condition pertains to the status of Thomas, assuming Boston retains his rights. If he chooses to return to the Bruins, they will have to sort out how Rask is valued in a platoon situation. It stands to reason that he will be the 1A of the pair and Thomas, who will be 39 in a year, will be the 1B. Either way, the Bruins have a stable goaltending situation going forward
How they choose to assess the salary situation after that will be up to Peter Chiarelli. Rask will be a restricted free agent upon the expiry of this deal in a year so the Bruins hold the cards which will dictate his future. The only question mark is money and the Bruins will be thrilled if Rask commands a lot of it. A big 2012-13 from Rask could very well earn them another Stanley Cup.
All in all, this is a shrewd deal for both parties. The Bruins give themselves flexibility one year from now when they need to re-assess their goaltending situation and Rask sets himself up for a big contract with a season as ‘the guy’ in Boston.
What do you think of the deal?