The league’s reigning Jennings Trophy winners, the Rask-Halak tandem has done its job for the Bruins, with the B’s possessing the fourth-best save percentage in the league since Halak joined the Bruins in 2018, at .915.
What’s most interesting about this tandem, however, is that both are in the final year of their current contracts, with Rask in Year 8 of a monster contract signed in 2013, while Halak signed a one-year extension last May.
But if the Bruins have their say, there’s a strong chance that both are back, according to an update courtesy of TSN hockey insider supreme Bob McKenzie.
“Jaro Halak, their backup goaltender, and of course Tuukka Rask, their veteran number one are both on expiring contracts,” McKenzie said during a Wednesday hit on NBCSN. “So, could there be contract talks in-season to get something done? I think the short answer to that is yes. The Bruins are not opposed to bringing back one or both of these guys and doing in-season contracts, if they get the sense from the goaltenders that’s what they want to do.”
There’s no doubt that the Bruins have gotten tremendous value out of this tandem so far, with the Rask-Halak tandem accounting for $9.75 million against the cap from 2018 through 2020, and 9.25 million this season.
But a flat cap, as well as an upcoming expansion draft, has complicated money for just about every team out there, and the Bruins are no exception.
So the Bruins’ plans will seemingly (and obviously) begin with the 33-year-old Rask.
“Rask is really the key here,” McKenzie noted. “How much longer does he want to play? I think the Bruins are waiting for some sort of indication from him on how he’d like to proceed. But the Bruins, by all means, are open to having one or both of these guys back. All things considered, the veteran Rask and the veteran Halak may be getting contracts before the end of the season if that’s the way they want to go.”
After dropping tongue-in-cheek comments about potentially retiring last year, and after making it clear that he has no interest in playing anywhere else, the ball is seemingly in Rask’s court when it comes an extension. But based on what Rask said in January, it seems clear that a new deal isn’t a ‘must-have’ between now and the end of the year.
“I’m comfortable with where we are right now,” Rask said before the season started. “I just wanna go out there, start the season off right, kind of get in a good groove and play good hockey personally and as a team.
“If the contract talks happen during the season, then so be it. If they don’t, then we’ll just wait it out and see what happens. But my main focus right now is to get the season started off right and worry about the future after that. I guess that’s the best answer I can give you right now.”
Rask, one win of shy of his 300th, has started his year with an 8-3-2 record and .902 save percentage, while Halak has four wins and a .903 save percentage in seven games this season.
The Bruins have Daniel Vladar and Jeremy Swayman down in Providence as potential goalies of the future, which will cause the Bruins to potentially do a ‘dance’ of sorts in these talks, per McKenzie.