The Boston Bruins met with the media today and several players explained that they were dealing with serious injuries as the playoffs wound down. Tuukka Rask in particular revealed that he has a torn labrum in his hip and will undergo surgery this month. The veteran goaltender will face a long recovery that is expected to keep him out until December or January, but that doesn’t mean his time in Boston is over if he has anything to say about it. Rask, an unrestricted free agent, hopes to return to play for the Bruins.
Even dealing with a hip injury all season–Rask said he first felt the injury during the playoff bubble last year–the 34-year-old netminder posted a .913 save percentage in 24 appearances. Those numbers actually improved in the playoffs, even if it was obvious that he was dealing with an injury of some sort in the Bruins second-round loss to the New York Islanders.
Both Rask and Jaroslav Halak are scheduled to become free agents this summer, but Rask explained that he only wants to play for the Bruins moving forward. What that means in terms of a contract extension isn’t clear, especially as the Boston front office considers a transition to young Jeremy Swayman as the team’s starting goaltender. Swayman had a .945 save percentage in ten games this season, but is obviously still an unproven commodity at the NHL level. The 22-year-old will be entering the second year of his entry-level contract in 2021-22, leaving plenty of cap room for the Bruins to insulate him with a veteran partner.
Though Rask’s season didn’t end the way he hoped, there’s no question how much he means to the Bruins franchise. Over a 14-year career he has posted a 306-163-66 record, registered a .921 save percentage, won the Vezina, the Jennings, and was even part of the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup team (though he did not play in the postseason). That .921 mark puts him third all-time behind only Dominik Hasek and Johnny Bower, while his win total ranks 32nd.
Coming off an eight-year, $56MM contract, Rask will obviously have to settle for a pay cut on his next deal. Still, if he can get healthy enough to contribute and wants to return to Boston, an extension makes sense for both sides.