Bruins sign Rask to eight-year contract

Bruins sign Rask to eight-year contract
July 10, 2013, 5:15 pm
Share This Post

BOSTON – The Bruins and Tuukka Rask had a deal essentially agreed upon shortly after the 2013 season concluded, and both sides formally announced an eight-year, $56 million contract extension late Wednesday afternoon for the 26-year-old netminder.

Rask had a solid 19-10-5 season with a 2.00 goals against average and .929 save percentage along with five shutouts in a “show me” season after signing a one-year deal prior to the 2013 season. His words last summer after signing his one-year contract showed the kind of confidence Rask was dealing in headed into a pivotal season for the netminder:

“If I have a good year, sign me up for a longer deal,” said Rask. “And then if I suck, kick me out basically.”

By any measure Rask had a “good year”, and got what he had coming to him. Some might have argued that the Bruins should have played “hard ball” with a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, but that could have backfired on them spectacularly if Rask ever reached the open free agent market after next season with the salary cap expected to go up considerably in 2014-15.

Rask really stepped up his game in the postseason while leading the B’s to a Stanley Cup Final berth with a .940 save percentage and a 1.88 goals against average. That regular season and postseason performance showed the Bruins front office everything they needed to see, and B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli made him the highest paid goaltender ($7 million cap hit) along with Nashville Predators goalie and Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne.

Given his youth (26) and the work ethic he’s steadily crafted since first arriving from his native Finland, the former first round pick is as good a gamble as you can roll out for a maximum eight-year contract extension.

Sure there will be pressure on Rask as a goaltender making $7 million season, and there may even be a down season or two in his future.  

But it can’t be any greater than the pressure on his slender shoulders when his future with the Bruins organization was hinging on a lockout-shortened 2013 campaign. The Bruins will also need franchise players to lean on in the future when Zdeno Chara hits the wrong side of 40 years old, and that could be coming up quickly as the Bruins captain will be 37 years old next season.

In terms of pure dollars both Roberto Luongo (12 years for $64 million) and Jonathan Quick (10 years for $58 million) have signed richer deals than Rask, but the talented Finnish netminder moves to the head of the class with the market-setting contract coming out of the most recent lockout.

With Henrik Lundqvist entering the last year of his contract with the Rangers and the salary cap expected to go up by $6-9 million in the 2014-15 season, Rask’s deal will potentially look like a bargain four or five years down the road. But for now Rask and agent Bill Zito can take a bow knowing that their one-year contract gamble headed into the 2013 season couldn’t have panned out any better for a talented young goalie just entering his prime.