Opening day of NHL free agency was not a good day for Tuukka Rask or anyone that wants to see him back in goal for the Bruins next season. After undergoing surgery on a torn labrum in his hip, it was revealed that Rask is expected out until at least January of next season, and maybe into February. Rask played through the injury during last season’s playoffs. Despite being hurt, Rask still posted a .919 save percentage in the postseason.
Rask has reportedly been considering retirement this offseason, but if he decided to keep playing, it had been assumed that he would return to the Bruins. As the offseason progressed, it felt more and more likely that Rask would be back in Boston, but that likelihood took a major hit yesterday when the Bruins signed former Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark to a 4-year, $20 million deal.
The deal makes Ullmark the 12th highest paid goalie in the NHL, tied with Semyon Varlamov of the Islanders and Thatcher Demo of the Canucks. With Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman in the fold, the Bruins seem extremely well equipped to move on from Rask.
It’s hard to believe the Bruins would pay Ullmark $5 million per year and be able to pay Tuukka Rask’s asking price for another season. After the first day of signings, Boston has an estimated $2 million remaining in cap room. Despite all these factors suggesting bringing back Rask would be a near impossibility, Bruins GM Don Sweeney would not rule out bringing Rask back.
“We needed to be prepared and allow Tuukka all the time he needs to get healthy.” Sweeney said. “I think we’ve always left the door open for Tuukka to return.”
Perhaps the Bruins will find a way to sign Rask for the second half of next season, but the money and term on Ullmark’s deal indicates that Don Sweeney is preparing for life without Rask sooner rather than later.
Photo: (Matt Slocum – AP Photo)
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