Tuukka Rask

Report: ‘Starting point’ for Rask’s new deal is six years, $39 million


Last summer, the Boston Bruins signed Tuukka Rask to a one-year, $3.5 million extension — a “prove-it deal” designed for the Finnish netminder to show he was capable of carrying the No. 1 gig.

Well, Rask proved it.

And now he wants to get paid.

According to CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty, the starting point for Rask’s extension negotiations with Boston is for $39 million over six years — an average annual cap hit of $6.5 million.

In terms of cap hit, the deal would tie Rask with Carolina’s Cam Ward for the third highest among active goalies.

The only ones earning more annually are Nashville’s Pekka Rinne ($7 million per) and New York’s Henrik Lundqvist ($6.875 million per).

Rask holds plenty of clout following a banner 2013 campaign.

He’s only 26, and coming off a year in which he went 19-10-5 during the regular season with a .929 save percentage and 2.00 GAA, then got even better in the playoffs, going 14-8 with a .940 save percentage and 1.88 GAA.

What’s more, Bruins don’t really have another option.

Anton Khudobin was a serviceable backup last season, though few figure he’s capable of handling an NHL starting gig. Malcolm Subban, taken in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is years away from being able to compete for the job.

(UPDATE: This section should also include mention of Niklas Svedberg, the 23-year-old Providence product that won AHL goalie of the year for 2012-13.)

So, Rask is coming back. The question is at what price.

Boston is tight up against the cap — just $5.8 million in space with 18 players signed — but will essentially do whatever it takes to retain Rask, who may have been the club’s MVP this season.

What a hefty price tag could mean, however, is less money to offer pending UFA Nathan Horton.

The B’s also need to start looking toward an extension for Patrice Bergeron — a UFA following 2013-14 — and what they plan to do with Dennis Seidenberg, who also goes unrestricted next summer.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?