|Rask will likely be the B's No. 1 next season. (Getty Images)|
With Tim Thomas sitting out next season in all likelihood, the pressure was really on to find common ground and sign goaltender Tuukka Rask to a deal or risk sweating out the possibility of an offer sheet for the soon-to-be restricted free agent.
Well, the pressure is off ... for one year, at least. The Bruins and Rask have reportedly agreed to a one-year contract that will pay Rask $3.5 million. That's according to TSN's Bob McKenzie and then seconded by Jimmy Murphy of ESPN Boston.
Right now I know what you're asking: Why one season? Great question, I think I have an answer for you. Rask is very clearly the future of the Bruins, whether that's this season or down the line. Whenever Thomas is no longer a Bruin it will be Rask's job.
However, because Rask is only 25, he will still be a restricted free agent when next summer rolls around -- at least under the current CBA structure -- so the Bruins have a lot of time to work on an extension. Even though he has already shown what he is capable of doing when he handled the lion's share of the work a few seasons ago, this allows the Bruins to make sure Rask can be their guy for the future before offering him a big-time contract. They will still have the power over other teams.
Thus, it seems to make a lot of sense for GM Peter Chiarelli. He can take it slowly and not burden himself now with a potentially tough contract to deal with. He has the ability to play a little wait and see.
|2012 NHL Free Agency|
|More NHL coverage|
What does surprise me is that Rask's camp would be OK with it. Normally you'd excpet a bigger deal for them, especially with the uncertainty of a new CBA.
Also, this contract invites the comparison to another recently signed RFA goaltender. That would be Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets. Granted, the Jets did have a little pressure being put on them by the threat of a KHL offer for Pavelec, but still, the idea that Pavelec is going to have a cap hit that is $400,000 more than Rask is a reminder of how questionable the contract to Pavelec was.
Rask's worst season -- excluding his rookie season with just four games played -- is better than Pavelec's best in the NHL. This past year Rask went 11-8-3 with a 2.05 GAA and .929 save percentage. In 2009-10 when he played in 45 games Rask was at his best, going 22-12-5 with a very impressive 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage. That's excellent compared to almost any goalie, let alone Pavelec.
I hate to pick on the Jets and Pavelec here too much, it's honestly not my intention. It's more to point out that I was actually expecting a bigger deal for Rask after seeing what Pavelec was given. Based on the going rate, this seems like a really good deal for the Bruins. And for Rask? Hey, that's a mighty big raise from the $1.5 million he made last season.