The Boston Bruins are moving forward in net amid the news that Tim Thomas plans to take at least the upcoming National Hockey League season off, as they have re-signed former back-up netminder Tuukka Rask to a one year deal worth $3.5 million. While Rask has shown flashes of brilliance over a short period in the past, he will finally get his chance to show that he can be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL.
The deal cannot officially be announced or signed until Sunday, at the start of the free agency period. But the contract will protect Boston from having to deal with any other team signing Rask to an offer sheet and risk losing him.
Rask will have a lot of pressure placed upon his shoulder pads, as the 25-year-old now takes over as the top man in a mask for a team who fully expects to contend for another Stanley Cup championship. Having started 22 games last season for Boston, Rask posted a record of 11-8 with a 2.05 goals against average. If he can enjoy similar success over the course of a full season, Rask will be able to really cash in after next season, as he will most likely be a restricted free agent once again.
And if he performs well enough this season, the Bruins may very well trade Thomas regardless of whether or not he plans to return after next season. To help a team in need of reaching the required salary cap basement number, Boston could move Thomas this Summer as well.
The Bruins will enter camp with Rask taking over regular starting duties, and will be backed up by Anton Khudobin expected to serve as the No. 2 goalie while the team develops recent first round draft pick Malcolm Subban for a role in the future.
But next season will be key for Boston, and especially Rask. While some may ask whether or not Rask really has that much pressure on him, having just taken over for a top tier goaltender in Thomas, the truth is people have projected Rask as a top goalie for quite some time. It is his time to prove them right.