We all know it’s coming. Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is about to get paid, big time.
And why shouldn’t he? In a season where the pressure was on him to prove the Bruins were fine without 2011 Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas, he practically impressed from wire to wire. In 36 games played through the regular season, Rask finished with a 2.00 GAA and a save percentage of .929.
But it’s in the postseason where a goaltender shows his true worth, and it was in this recent playoff run that Rask’s worth multiplied. He lowered his GAA to 1.88 while increasing his save percentage to .940. Had the Bruins indeed beaten the Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup, there was very little doubt that Rask would be awarded the Conn Smythe.
The Finnish backstop recently intimated that staying in Boston as long as possible was his ideal scenario. In a league full of goalie-desperate teams (hello, Philadelphia Flyers), this should be the Bruins’ dream situation as well.
GM Peter Chiarelli stated the top priority for Boston this offseason is resigning Rask. According to ESPN Boston, he also mentioned the deal could be coming as soon as this Friday.
“I feel confident that we’ll get a deal done on Rask in short order,” Chiarelli said. “I would think before, but if it’s after I’m fine with it, too,” Chiarelli said. “I know he would enter free agency but I’m confident, regardless either or.”
This is all well and good, but once Rask is re-signed, how limited are the Bruins going to be for the rest of free agency? The pending deal with Rask is currently rumored to be around eight years and between $52-54 million. With the talk of Patrice Bergeron also receiving an extension, will Boston even be able to spend any money elsewhere?
We already know they are going to let a few current members walk to free agency. Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton and Kaspars Daugavins are all among UFAs the Bruins are letting go. However, this doesn’t exactly free up a ton of cap space. Most of these free agents weren’t given offers because, essentially, the Bruins wouldn’t be able to afford re-signing them. Not without a significant hometown discount, at least.
So, what are Chiarelli’s options?
The biggest and essentially only real option is swinging some trades. The name that continues popping up as the popular Bruins trade asset is winger Rich Peverley. Thrown a new contract after a solid season in 2011, the third line grinder hasn’t really done much to warrant his upgraded salary. He may need to be moved to either acquire pieces in a deal or free up cap space.
We’ve also already heard Tyler Seguin‘s name in trade talks. NHL Draft Day came and went without movement on the young winger’s part, but this doesn’t ensure his safety. The return for Seguin would be much, much better than Peverley. However, the Bruins need to decide if giving up on Seguin this early is wise. Personally, I think it’s way too early to call it on the 21-year-old.
Either way, with deals coming down the pike for Rask and Bergeron, Boston needs to decide on how they intend on improving the team via free agency, or if it’s even an option.
Free agency officially begins this Friday. Time to see what tricks Chiarelli and the rest of the Bruins’ front office have up their sleeves.