By Ty Anderson
In an offseason already loaded with inflated contracts and CBA uncertainty, Boston's fearful thoughts of potentially spoiling their salary cap in order to keep Tuukka Rask in town were put to rest today with a one-year deal that'll come with a modest 3.5 million dollar cap-hit, according to a report by Canada's TSN.
Following his third full season with the Bruins, the deal comes on the heels of a 2011-12 campaign that saw Rask go 11-8-3 with a .929 save-percentage before a groin injury derailed his season, ultimately keeping him out of game action from Mar. 3 on. Yet despite finishing the year with just 23 games played, his fewest since emerging onto the scene in a platoon role with Tim Thomas, the deal between the two sides puts an end to a month of uncertainty, given the legitimacy of a Thomas sabbatical in 2012-13.
Undoubtedly considered one of Boston's most prized possessions, the 25-year-old Rask has totaled 47 wins in 102 games played, but has found himself with little room to breathe when it comes to stealing the starting job (back) from Thomas. Considered to be his only real season as a starter, Rask's best year to date has been an impressive 2009-10 campaign that saw Tuukka by all means save the Bruins from missing out on the playoffs.
Playing in a career-high 45 games, the Finnish-born goaltender went 22-12-5, and wrapped up the year with the league's best save-percentage (.931) and goals-against-average (1.97) before leading the B's to a first round upset over the Buffalo Sabres.
But in a season that brought the Hub a new found love for Rask, with shirts flying off the shelves as the B's marched on to the beat of No. 40's drum, it was a season that ended with the netminder bowing out in four straight contests to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round, closing the books on Boston's unforgettable choke-job in a series that began with a 3-0 series lead.
Counting Marc Savard's $4.007 million cap hit on the long-term injured reserve with concussion symptoms, and with rookie Dougie Hamilton expected to make the club, the deal leaves Boston with 22 skaters signed and just under six million dollars in cap space heading into July.
Rask, slated to be the B's starter ahead of back-up Anton Khudobin, will still be a restricted free agent when this deal expires next season. A press conference to officially announce the signing is likely to come this weekend.
Ty Anderson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @_TyAnderson.