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.

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?

Comments (3)

  1. Does deferring Rask’s bigger pay day a year have anything to do with Thomas’s remaining cap hit? They are stuck with $5M this year under all scenarios as far as I understand.
    Next year, will Thomas have any cap hit to them? If not, it becomes much easier to pay Rask more and still have cap room to help the rest of the team
    This is more of a question vs. a comment. I don’t know he in’s and out’s of cap mgmt.
    Not sure how suspending Thomas or not this year impacts the answer either….

    • Hey Graeme, thanks for the comment.

      Unfortunately for the Bruins, Thomas does incur a $5 mil cap hit for the duration of this season but he will be a UFA as of July 1, 2013, so no cap hit after this season. In all likelihood the deal with Rask today does tie directly into this situation with Thomas because his deal handcuffs them pretty heavily. They’re already right up against the cap, though from what I understand they’re looking into ways to lessen that given the odd circumstances here.

      That being said, the deal offers Rask the opportunity to prove he’s worth more than a 2012 Tim Thomas if they win the division again. The Bruins won’t have a single goaltender under contract in one year and with Rask as the only RFA of the bunch they will have given themselves greater flexibility to decide how to best move forward.

      This is a really roundabout way of me saying, yes you’re absolutely right about the Thomas expiring contract and how the Bruins play this all out is entirely in their court. Luckily for them though, it’s hard to spot a lose-lose situation unless Thomas outright retires next year and someone offer sheets Rask so substantially that they can’t justify matching it.

      • Couldn’t they lessen the Thomas cap hit by sending him down to the minors? I’m sure he would clear waivers without being claimed since his future is so up in the air, and if he does get claimed, even better. Would the Bruins be stupid enough to actually take back a 40 year old goalie who was just left to take a year off when he was still under contract with no regard for his team or teammates? I would tell him to go (bleep) himself if he tried to walk back in and take over. I hate the Bruins, but IMO, they should move forward with Rask and forget about Tim Thomas. If theyre smart, they would be shopping him now trying to get what they could, like maybe a draft pick or two. Follow me on Twitter @TheSp0rtsking That’s with a ’0′ instead of an ‘O’ #LightTheCandle

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