By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter: @andrewtaverna
There are many takes on Tuukka Rask and what his future in Boston should hold, but today, we got to hear from the netminder himself. It turns out, Tuukka Rask, as many had suggested, did play through an injury this off-season, but it doesn’t sound like a new one.
Considering the severe nature of a hip injury, you would imagine that Bruins fans will have many questions about why Bruce Cassidy let Rask play. Considering it was a season-long injury and not new in the playoffs, it makes sense you’d leave that decision to a veteran goaltender. While most people refer to Rask as “soft” or not “tough enough,” this has proven the exact opposite. Do we remember the praise we gave Patrice Bergeron?
What’s Next for Rask?
First things first, Rask will need to get healthy if he wants to play at all next year. “Yeah, so I have a torn labrum in my hip. I’m going to do surgery. I just don’t know what the exact date is — probably within a month,” Rask said. “Start the recovery process and then we’ll see what the future holds after that, hopefully recovery goes well.” With this procedure, Rask estimated he would return to hockey in January or February at the earliest next year if his recovery goes as planned. However, his contract is not guaranteed next year as Tuukka Rask is about to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in a long time. When this happens, Rask will be allowed to decide whether he wants to play in Boston or test the market. However, Rask made it abundantly clear that he wants to stay a Boston Bruin in his media availability.
Rask went even further than saying he wanted to stay and made it clear the Bruins will be the only team he’d consider playing for in the NHL. “Like I’ve said before, I’m not gonna play for anybody else than the Bruins. This is our home. We have three kids. … At this point in my life, I don’t see any reason to go anywhere else. … Hopefully it works out and I recover well and we can talk about contracts.” After that type of statement, you can be all but certain Rask will be wearing a spoked-B next year if he is healthy enough to play the game.
What if the Bruins Don’t Re-sign Rask?
As mentioned previously, Rask has made it clear he wants to remain a Boston Bruin, but if that does not work out for some reason, it sounds like he would still prefer not to retire. “Well, we’ll see when we get there. Maybe I can go play in Finland,” Rask said of his native country. “I’m part owner of a team in Finland, they’re opening a new rink. Maybe I’ll play in Finland, who knows? Maybe I could go play in the Czech Republic again.” No matter how much a particular portion of the fan base believes Rask is done, the player himself disagrees. When he becomes healthy, he will be playing again.
Where Do the Bruins Go From Here?
This part of the article is where I remove myself from Rask’s press conference and dive into personal opinion. I do believe the Bruins will try to re-sign Tuukka Rask. In an ideal world, before knowing of Rask’s injury, I would have said signing Rask to a two or three-year deal with a mid-dollar contract would have been the best-case scenario for the Bruins and Rask. It does appear, however, the Bruins as an organization would potentially have an opportunity to bring Rask back on a one-year deal and test how healthy he can get as a player. If you get an elite year out of Tuukka Rask, you can plan to re-sign him again after the one-year term to give rookie goaltenders Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar more time to develop. Either way, as an organization, Rask will be one of the best veteran goalie options on the market, and it would make sense to use him to develop your young guys. Fortunately, Rask did not seem distributed by this concept either.
All in all, we can question the postseason results or even the decision on whether or not you want to bring back a goaltender who has a hip injury. Still, you can never question the commitment Tuukka Rask has shown to the Boston Bruins or Boston as a whole. He treats us better than we probably deserve, and I, for one, certainly hope we have not seen his last game as a Bruin.