When Tim Thomas decided to force a trade take a year away from the Boston Bruins, the player everyone assumed would benefit the most was backup goalie Tuukka Rask. He would inherit the starting job; and, as a restricted free agent, he would likely receive a sizable contract to lock him into the gig.
Rask should still have the starting job, but both the player and the team appear to be taking a cautious approach to his future.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reports they have agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal for next season.
The Bruins goalie will still be a restricted free agent next summer, under the current terms of the CBA.
There was some thought that Rask would earn the type of contract Ondrej Pavelec did with the Winnipeg Jets — five years, $19.5 million — but the Bruins inked him to a deal with a lower cap hit than the Jets' netminder's contract ($3.9 million).
Face it: The most starts Rask has had in a season was 39 back in 2009-10, when he was 22-12-5 with a 1.97 GAA. The Bruins are pretty sure he has the goods but want to see him with a heavier workload. Rask, meanwhile, thinks he can post Tim Thomas-esque numbers behind that defense, so he waits a year before really cashing in on a long-term deal.
A one-year contract allows the Bruins to make Rask the team's certain No. 1 goalie for the first time, while also giving them a better gauge of his value before they wheel out big money or a long term commitment.
Per the current CBA rules, Rask would still be a restricted free agent at the end of his one-year deal, but there's no way of knowing how the free agency landscape could change with the new labor deal that starts next season.
"I haven't really put a lot of thought into it, but he's [Thomas] got a year left on his contract and mine is up obviously, but I want to stay here. I'm sure they have a plan for that too and it will all work out good. I'm a young guy and I want to have a long future ahead of me as a Bruin and make more good things happen for the team and our fans."
In context, it makes sense for both sides: The Bruins can be sure on Rask, and Rask can make bank with a strong season.
The only question is: Will GM Peter Chiarelli regret pushing Rask one year closer to unrestricted free agency and not locking him up to a multi-year deal now if Tuuk Nuke'em has a star-making season?