All of a sudden, re-signing Tuukka Rask became Boston’s top priority

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Now that Tim Thomas has decided to take next season off to spend with his “family, friends, and faith” Boston’s situation in goal just got a lot more interesting. Boston has Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin set to be their goaltending tandem next season but there’s one little problem: Rask is a restricted free agent this summer.

Getting Rask locked up to a long-term deal has become GM Peter Chiarelli’s biggest offseason task. The issue the Bruins have now, however, is Thomas’ departure gives Rask a lot more leverage to get what he wants.

For all intents and purposes, Thomas’ career in Boston is over with. His contract expires after next season and with his friends and family sabbatical taking him out of the picture, Rask is the No. 1 guy and he’s going to want to be paid like it.

Getting the right term and money for Rask, who proved back in 2009-10 he could handle himself just fine as a starter, will make for a fascinating story line to follow this summer. At the very least, Tim Thomas’ departure has helped make Boston’s offseason a lot more exciting.