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 finding it unbelievable that some people are questioning the heart of Isaiah Thomas at this point.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur with a column on Phil Kessel playing all of his cards right with the Penguins. It’s something he never did in an untenable Toronto situation where he and Dion Phaneuf were expected to be franchise players instead of the “third banana” type roles they were meant for on good teams with Ottawa and Pittsburgh.
That was very clear when he was with the Bruins early in his career, was not a good match with the hearty crew that ended up winning a Cup in 2011 and basically didn’t want to play for Claude Julien anymore after just three seasons. It was more clear when he pulled the same reluctant public figure card as Toronto’s high-paid star forward in the NHL’s biggest media market, and never did more than put up his numbers. Now in Pittsburgh he’s clearly well behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the pecking order, plays in a place where he can fade into the background a little bit without too many problems and a lot of his eccentricities are viewed as charming, or Phil being Phil, rather than Kessel being viewed as a bit of an odd duck or a malcontent.
But to this Bruins writer he’ll always be the guy that clashed with Julien over the stick that he preferred to use, clashed with Zdeno Chara on the ice for his work habits and was ultimately a player that wasn’t very popular at all in the Bruins dressing room despite the obvious talent and the courageous battle with cancer he waged during his first year in Boston. He’s obviously matured and is more well-rounded in some ways than his Boston days, but in many ways he’s the exact same Phil that doesn’t want to change for anybody or anything.
*Here’s the New York Islanders season in review after disappointing with a failure to get into the playoffs, and a big situation coming up with John Tavares.
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen done for the playoffs after being diagnosed with “acute compartment syndrome.” What a big blow to the Predators.
*The Ottawa Senators are still looking to push the Penguins to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s obviously going to be a difficult task for them.
*Don Cherry and Ron MacLean had their Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada this weekend, and tackled some hot topics like the Nashville crowd throwing a dead duck on the ice.
*Ryan Getzlaf addresses the fine from the NHL for using a vulgar slur on the ice, apparently aimed at nobody in particular according to the player.
*Here’s a set of statistics that effectively sums up the pathetic regular season put forth by the Colorado Avalanche.
*For something completely different: In an interesting rumor, the Mr. Robot show creator is apparently in talks on an Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone movie.