Next year is shaping up to be a “prove it” season for Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins have reportedly come to terms with their young goalie a one-year, $3.5 million deal, suggesting that — with Tim Thomas on sabbatical — it’s Rask’s time to prove he’s No. 1.
Rask is a solid netminder and one of the better young goalies in the league, but his ability to handle a full workload is in question. Whereas Thomas could be banked on for 55-60 starts per year, Rask has never appeared in more than 45 games in a single season.
Add in Rask’s injury woes and RFA status (he’ll be restricted again after this deal expires), and it’s easy to see why Boston took the cautious approach.
The big question now is what’s next for Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.
The club has over $9 million locked into goaltending and is perilously close to the $70.2 million cap ceiling. Moving Thomas’ contract seems necessary at this point, and Chiarelli could be aided on that front.
As the Sporting News’ Jesse Spector points out, seven teams finished last year under the $54.2 million cap floor: Nashville, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Carolina, Dallas, Colorado and the New York Islanders.
Will any of them pick up Thomas’ contract, potentially freeing up Boston to add a piece via trade or free agency?