Tuukka Rask working way back from hip surgery, NHL future still unclear

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There was a familiar face on the ice at the Bruins practice facility on Monday — one that could be seen on a much more regular basis later this season.

Tuukka Rask was in full gear working with goalie coach Bob Essensa a little over three months after undergoing surgery on his right hip. The 34-year-old netminder remains unsigned, but should he manage to get back to 100% health he could be ready to play at some point in 2022.

“I was told originally that the timeline for him to return to play — wherever that is, whether it’s Boston or somewhere else — would be January to February,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, via NHL.com. “I guess the best I can tell you is he’s on target for that.”

Rask’s hip surgery forced Bruins general manager Don Sweeney to go with a goaltending plan of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark, who signed a four-year, $20 million contract in free agency. Through nine games the duo have nearly split the workload evenly and have combined for a .910 even strength save percentage as the Bruins sport a 5-4-0 record.

While Cassidy added in the “or somewhere else” when talking about Rask’s possible playing future, the goaltender himself has made it clear he’ll only return to the Bruins or retire.

“It’s going to be one of those things where the Bruins are my home, Boston is my home,” Rask said on the Greg Hill Show in August. “I’ve always wanted to play here, wanted to stay here. So the money won’t be an issue. We had a conversation with [Sweeney] and I will be a cheap goalie for them, I think.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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