More than a few eyebrows were raised across the NHL when the Boston Bruins agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million contract extension with RFA goalie Tuukka Rask in late June.
With Tim Thomas on sabbatical and Anton Khudobin as the only other NHL-tested goalie in the organization, many figured Boston would try to get a long-term deal done with the 25-year-old Rask.
Turns out that’s exactly what Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli wanted to do.
“A compromise,’’ Chiarelli characterized the one-year pact for Rask, who is projected as this season’s No. 1. “We tried to go longer in term, but . . . ’’
But Rask, represented by Chicago-based Bill Zito, clearly wanted a better payoff than, say, the three-year, $12 million that Cory Schneider inked in Vancouver. The guess here was that Rask would come in around a $4.3 million average over three years, with payouts of $3.3 million, $4.3 million, and $5.3 million. Now, with $3.5 million his base, both sides must wait until Jan. 1, 2013, if they want to add any term to the deal.
Rask, no doubt, will take out a substantial insurance policy prior to training camp. Only 25, he’ll want to protect against the loss of years of future earnings if he were to be injured on a deal that pays him from October into April.
Rask and the Bruins were in a bit of a conundrum, timing-wise. Nobody’s denying Rask’s talent or ability, but he’s yet to appear in more than 45 games in a single season and had injury issues. There’s no telling how he’ll handle the rigors of a 60-65 game workload.
That said, he didn’t want to get locked into a longer-term deal at this stage of the game. There’s a possibility of a big payday for Rask if he thrives as Boston’s No. 1 in 2012-13, considering there are currently 15 goalies in the NHL earning at least $4 million annually.