If you haven’t read the Finnish sports magazine interview with Tuukka Rask, I would encourage you to do so. There isn’t much there, but what Rask has said is pretty important. Here’s just a taste of what Rask says:
“The truth is that I want to play more. I do not want to spend a whole career sitting on the bench. It feels like no matter how well I play, I’m on the bench in the next game. Even if I get a shutout it’s not enough.”
Yikes. If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you know how I feel about Tuukka Rask. I love the guy. If I had my way Tim Thomas would be sitting on the bench and Tuukka would be playing a majority of the games. I think it’s time to make this transition. Rask is 24 years old and he’s primed to be the main guy. My fear is that he’s going to be the main guy in another city. There are multiple hockey teams in the NHL that lack a tried and true #1 goaltender and would overpay for Tuukka Rask. Back in December, I wrote this for a game preview:
After the jump, what teams could be interested in goaltending...
I’m a big Tuukka guy so I would rather see him between the pipes. I think the kid is the future goaltender for this organization and can be for the next 10 years or so. With a contract coming to an end this off-season it’s entirely possible that he walks into Peter Chiarelli’s office and says “no thank you” (or “Ei kiitos” in Finnish) because he can sign somewhere else and start. Yes, he’s a restricted free agent which means there will be some compensation, but is it worth losing a 1A goalie because you want Tim Thomas to play for another year or two? Not in my eyes.
Look around the league. Do you know how many teams would love to have Tuukka Rask?
- Washington Capitals [Tomas Voukon UFA after this season, Michael Neuvirth has one year left on contract after this season]
- Calgary Flames [Miika Kiprusoff has 2 years at $5.833M left after this season but does not have a No Movement Clause]
- Columbus Blue Jackets [Steve Mason has 1 year at $2.9M left on contract after this season, Curtis Sanford is a UFA]
- New Jersey Devils [Martin Broduer and Johan Hedberg both UFAs after this season]
- Tampa Bay Lightning [Dwayne Roloson UFA after this season, Mathieu Garon has 1 year at $1.3M after this season]
- Edmonton Oilers [Nikolai Khabibulin has 1 year at $3.75M after this season, Devin Dubnyk is a RFA]
- Phoenix Coyotes [Mike Smith has 1 year at $2M after this season, Jason Labarbera has 1 year at $1.25M after this season]
- Dallas Stars [Kari Lehtonen has 1 year at $3.55M after this season, Andrew Raycroft UFA]
- Colorado Avalanche [Semyon Varlamov has 2 years at $2.83M after this season, JS Giguere has 1 year at $1.25M after this season]
So there’s 9 teams that could be after a goaltender in the off-season and of course that doesn’t count trades and what have you. There were also some teams like the New York Islanders that have money locked up in goaltenders (like DiPietro) but they’re always on IR (like DiPietro) so they could make a play for Rask as well. The only “ace in the hole” for the Bruins is that they can match any offer sheet so there’s a good chance every team pulls the good ol boys bullshit and doesn’t throw anything at Rask (much like Stamkos this off-season) for fear of being blacklisted by fellow GMs.
So now the question needs to be asked, which goaltender is more important to the team? Yes, Tim Thomas pulled off the seemingly impossible task from bringing home a Stanley Cup to Boston but does that mean that the team is forever indebted to his services between the pipes? Thomas is still producing this season. He’s currently 19th overall in GAA, posting a 2.16 effort in that category. Thomas is 4th overall in the NHL in save percentage, posting a .932% which is tied with Rask.
But how long can this production last? If you’ve been paying attention to the shitholes in New Jersey (and why would you?) Marty Broduer’s career has taken a slide. Is it worth keeping Thomas as the starter and letting Rask walk for the sheer fact that Thomas has delivered a Cup? The answer is no. What happens when Thomas runs out of steam next season or the season after? You know what happens? You end up splitting time between Thomas and some shitty backup goaltender like Steve Shields, Manny Fernandez or one of the AHL goalies who don’t have a GAA under 2.50 and a save percentage above .921.
Boston definitely has a hard decision when June rolls around. If Rask is signed and not used in the starting role (or at least a 50/50 split), I think he’ll ask to be moved. It’s not hard to think he’ll do it since he’s not afraid to complain about playing time.
I guess only time will tell.