Tuukka Rask entered the 2012 season looking to prove that he could be the franchise goaltender for the Boston Bruins. After he made his case on the ice, the Bruins made it official. Today, the Bruins signed Tuukka Rask to an eight-year, $56 million contract that will run all the way through the 2020-21 season. The contact will pay Rask $7 million annually, making him the highest-paid goaltender in the NHL alongside Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.
It was always a matter of when, not if, the Bruins would sign Rask to a long-term contract. Rask opted to sign a one-year deal worth $3.5 million last offseason, electing to try and play his way into a bigger deal. After posting a regular-season GAA of 2.00 with a .927 save percentage, it’s safe to say that Rask made the right choice. He was the backbone of a Bruins defense that came within two games of winning their second Stanley Cup in three years, and he’s earned every cent on his new contract.
By giving Rask this type of deal, the Boston Bruins are sending a message: Rask is their franchise goalie for the long haul. The Bruins have always believed that Rask would blossom into an elite NHL goaltender, and as an organization, they were very cautious about not rushing him into the league too early. Certainly having Vezina award-winning goaltender Tim Thomas made it a lot easier to be patient with Rask, but in a league that often forces goaltenders to ‘sink or swim,’ the Bruins’ far-sighted approach had paid off.
Rask has been the ideal goaltender for the defensive-minded Claude Julien system, and the stats back it up. Over his career, Rask has a lifetime GAA of 2.15, and he led the entire league in both GAA and save percentage during the 2009-10 NHL season. Rask prides himself on always being in the right position for the first shot, and combined with his rebound control, he is a hard goaltender to beat. Backing up a Bruins defense that keeps shooters to the sides, Rask’s quiet style of goaltending is a perfect fit for the system.
This has been the plan for the Boston Bruins ever since they acquired Rask from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005. The contract ensures that Rask will be playing out his goaltending prime in Black and Gold, and for a team that’s built from its goaltender on out, having that long-term stability is important.
There are some questions about what the future holds for the Boston Bruins, but one thing is certain: it’ll be Tuukka Rask between the pipes.