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.