By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask may be a little closer to the end of his career than you’d think.
Always a candid quote, Boston’s 33-year-old ace in net and an NHL mainstay since the 2009 season touched on his workload moving down the road in a conversation with the Boston Globe’s Matt Porter, and subtly revealed that things may dramatically change for the B’s crease when his current contract expires in 2021.
“I have one year left in the contract, so we’ll see if I even play,” Rask told Porter. When asked if that was a real possibility that he opts to walk away from hockey, Rask noted that it’s “always a possibility.” For Rask, the decision to walk away would come down to “family time” and the Finnish-born Vezina winner’s desire to travel less and be there for his young children.
It’s a relatively surprising reveal from Rask, but it’s worth mentioning that Rask has a history of concussions (Rask has also battled migraine issues in the past), and that he’ll be a 34-year-old free agent when his deal runs out at the end of next season. Look at those factors alone and it’s entirely plausible that Rask, after 13 full seasons as an NHLer, has had enough.
But in reality, it may just mean that Rask will officially transition away from long-term deals (like the eight-year, $56 million contract Rask will finish up after next season) and take things on a year-by-year basis. This is similar to what Pekka Rinne did when approaching the end of his seven-year deal with Nashville, signing a two-year extension with a $2 million per year lower cap hit. (Rinne, for what it’s worth, was 36 years old when he signed that two-year, $10 million extension.)
The Bruins are somewhat prepared for a potential Rask retirement, of course, with Kyle Keyser, Daniel Vladar, and now Jeremy Swayman all signed to entry-level deals and with development paths that could trend towards NHL minutes in 2021.
Rask, who has spent his entire pro career with the Bruins after being drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2005, ranks first on the B’s all-time list in wins (291), save percentage (.922), and his 50 shutouts are the second-most in franchise history.