July 11, 2013

Rask commands a lot of coin in new deal

By Jesse Connolly

If you play like an elite goalie, you're going to get paid like one. In Tuukka Rask's case, you're going to get paid like the most elite of your netminding brethren.

The Bruins announced they inked the 26-year-old goaltender to an eight-year, $56 million contract Wednesday. With a $7 million cap hit, that means no team has a goalie on the books for more coin than No. 40 in Black and Gold. He and Pekka Rinne now share the distinction of being the highest-paid players at their position.

Last summer, Rask set out to prove his worthiness by inking a one-year contract, confident he'd be able to parlay a strong season into a big-time contract like the one he just received. He went 19-10-5 during the regular season with a 2.00 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

Rask was arguably the best goaltender during the playoffs. He backstopped Boston to within two victories of the Stanley Cup, all while posting an impressive 1.88 goals-against average and lights-out .940 save percentage.

While there are plenty of reasons to rejoice over the B's locking up Rask as he enters the prime of his NHL career, there are certainly reasons for concern.

Eight years is a long time. A really long time. Rask has had injury troubles in the past, and there's also the fact that he's never started more than 40 games in a season to consider.

Seven million bucks ain't chump change, either. It's pretty clear that there's rarely such a thing as a "hometown discount" when it comes to the Bruins re-signing their own players. It's also apparent that the Bruins have no trouble throwing a lot of money at a player after a breakout year in their young career (with Tyler Seguin serving as a great recent example).

Rask did have that dynamite rookie year in 2009-10, and you can't take anything away from what he did in 2013 -- from opening night, through the Eastern Conference playoffs and up until the B's gut-wrenching defeat with their second Cup in three years within reach.

The fact the Bruins have a goalie like Rask to be their backbone for a number of future Cup runs is something a number of other NHL teams envy, so it's safe to say that making sure a player of that caliber remains in the fold is huge. But, part of me thinks -- even though his contract will probably start looking like a steal a few seasons from now -- it might've been a slight pinch too much and too long for a goalie that's shown a helluva lot, but whose resume doesn't include carrying a team during a full 82-game season just yet.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com