With Tim Thomas now officially out of the picture for the Bruins, they truly become Tuukka Rasks hockey club.
Rask has responded well to that challenge while off to a 6-1-1 record with a 1.96 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in the first three weeks of the 2013 NHL season while working on a one-year prove it deal signed this summer. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has been enthused enough with Rasks performance that he indicated on Thursday the Bruins will be working to sign the 26-year-old goalie to a multi-year contract extension during this abbreviated 48-game regular season.
The Bruins GM also shot down the notion there was a connection between Rasks brilliant 20-save performance against the Habs on Wednesday night, and the deal jettisoning Thomas to Long Island less than 24 hours later.
Nothing is imminent and I can leave it at that, said Chiarelli. The Thomas trade has kind of been in the works for a while and it just coincidental that Tuukka had a terrific game last night.
Breaching my own policy of not discussing contracts, we will bring up talks with Tuukka at some point in this season, in hoping to extend him. I know the perception looks like one follows the other and I was waiting to pull the trigger based on a great game by Tuukka. Weve been pretty open with Tuukka and Tim as far as when we would see them ending up, I call it a succession plan.
We havent strayed from that. That game against the Habs for Tuukka was a divisional game, an improving team that were going to see a lot and he held the fort in the first period. That gave me a good feeling, but we always had this succession plan to install Rask and we were going to carry through with it.
The guess is that Rasks final contract extension will reside somewhere in a range between the recent deals procured for Ondrej Pavelec (5 years and 19.5 million) and Carey Price (6 years and 39.5 million) with his ultimate performance over the course of this season filling out the numbers. Its a wide range to be sure, but Rask is expected to come up in the middle (5 million per season) of those deals if he can maintain his high level of play as a No. 1 goaltender for Boston this season.
Now that Thomas is long gone but not forgotten, it is Chiarellis job to assign a value on a player in Rask during a 48-game shortened season when very little is normal in the world of the NHL.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter participating in today’s Women’s March.
*This is from a few days ago, but Bob McKenzie weighing in on the prospects for Claude Julien and his job security is always worth checking out.
*The New York Rangers have themselves a rookie named Pavel that’s doing a pretty darned good job for the Blueshirts.
*What should the St. Louis Blues do with Kevin Shattenkirk as the trade deadline approaches and the seven-year, $49 million contract waiting for him in free agency is pretty daunting?
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Allen has a list of underperforming NHL stars, including Jamie Benn and Jonathan Toews, that may have been impacted by the World Cup of Hockey. Certainly Patrice Bergeron could have made this list as well.
*Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling may be earning some more playing time after the way he performed against the Bruins, according to Pro Hockey Talk.
*Good news with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson set to return to the team in a couple of weeks after tending to his wife in a battle against cancer.
*The struggles of Anthony Duclair with the Arizona Coyotes mirror the team’s issues this season as well. It’s interesting that Duclair has popped up in trade rumors with the Desert Dogs this season.
*For something completely different: the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman is going to be extremely emotional with its characters.
BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.
Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.
Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.
Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.
“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”
Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game: