Even before 2011 Vezina trophy winning goaltender Tim Thomas made his unofficial decision to sit out the 2012-’13 season, many believed that the starting job between the Boston pipes wouldn’t belong to him even if he’d decided to play out the final season of his 4-year, $20 million dollar contract (signed in 2009). Whether it is via trade, release or simply no. 30 staying true to his word and sitting out next season, it’s fairly safe to say that Tim Thomas has worn the Black and Gold sweater for the final time. Thomas’ departure has opened the door for 24-year old Finnish ‘tender Tuukka Rask to take over in the Boston crease.
On Friday morning, the team exhibited its confidence in Rask as their number one goalie of the future when announcing that they’d come to an agreement on a new one-year contract worth a total of $3.5 million dollars.
“He’s a calm, poised goaltender. You see little bits of the fiery temper here and there, and I don’t mind that, but generally speaking he’s a goalie who is composed, who is technically very good, and athletic at the same time. And I don’t have any reasons to think that he’s not going to emerge as the number one and for years to come.” – Peter Chiarelli
Rask took over the starting job for a brief period of time at the end of the 2009-’10 season when Thomas was struggling to recover from a hip injury. In 45 games that season, he posted a 22-12-5 record with five shutouts and an impressive 1.97 goals against average. He’s spent the past two seasons backing up Thomas, making a total of 52 starts. Through 102 career NHL appearances, Rask boasts a 47-35-11 record with a 2.20 goals against average and a .926 save percentage.
After seeing the enormous inflation in the free agent market this summer, it would have been easy for Rask to demand a lengthy contract worth a considerably larger monetary amount (i.e. Ondrej Pavelec‘s new deal in Winnipeg). However, the fourth-year netminder was content with a new one-year pact, hoping to establish himself as a legitimate number one goalie.
“He wants to prove that he’s the number one goalie for the Bruins for a long time. This was the easiest way to set the stage for that and Tuukka’s been a really good goalie for us… The stage is set for him and we’ll see where it takes us.” – Peter Chiarelli
The short-term nature of this deal is absolutely a perfect fit for the Bruins’ organization. If Rask falters or is again hampered by the lower body injury that kept him out of the lineup for most of last spring, the team isn’t tied down by an extensive — and expensive — contract. And if Rask does become the superstar goaltender that many believe he will be, the Bruins will still own his rights as a restricted free agent in the summer of 2013.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.