Boston Bruins

May 31, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) makes a save during overtime in game two of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Islanders at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Free agent goaltender Tuukka Rask is not on the ice — or even listed on the Bruins’ roster for that matter — at this year’s training camp. But the 34-year-old has been seen around Warrior Ice Arena as he recovers from his offseason hip surgery.

“He’s come in early,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed. “I don’t know the on-ice part. I don’t wanna speak out of turn because now you’re talking about NHL rules where is a guy practicing with you while not an NHL contract? I’m not sure we can do that. But I’m assuming he’s allowed to get some treatment [and] he’s set up treatment. I don’t know when that will end in our building. But he has been here earlier. I know he’s here, has been here from time to time, but not on the ice.”

Rask’s apparent presence around the facility as he recovers from his operation adds another layer to this goalie ‘drama’ (it’s not drama for anybody actually involved in the process), and only further drives home the point that a) Rask isn’t completely done with hockey, b) the Bruins aren’t completely done with Rask, and c) that our favorite, and most agonizing argument of the modern era isn’t going away just yet.

And it would appear that Rask, barring a setback, has made up his mind for 2021-22.

“I can only go by what Tuukka has told me and everyone else: that he’d like to stay and return to Boston,” Cassidy confirmed. “So we understand that, and I think the goalies [currently on the roster] understand that. But it’s way too early to say that’s a definite or it’s not happening.”

In regards to the fit in Boston, Rask acknowledged that he’s ahead of his original recovery timeline and reiterated that he only wants to play for the Bruins. He also said that both he and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney are on the same page when it comes his future, and admitted that he’ll be a ‘cheap’ goalie for the Bruins next season. All signs point towards a re-signing.

But the Bruins spent $20 million on free agent Linus Ullmark and are giving 2021 breakout rookie Jeremy Swayman a chance to show he’s legitimately ready out of the gate in 2021.

There’s enough pressure as is, but now add in the potential of Rask, the franchise’s all-time winningest goalie and a locker room favorite, looming over the crease? Is that something the Bruins want to potentially expose their goaltenders to as they try to squeeze another Stanley Cup run from a reshuffled group with as much newness and uncertainties as this one?

Ullmark, for what it’s worth, has already addressed the possibility and said it’s not something he’s worrying about in the now.

Nor does it seem like something that’s bugging Cassidy & Co. as the Bruins keep all their options open in camp and beyond.

“We’ve talked to both goalies about our entire goaltending situation, where Tuukka’s at,” Cassidy sad. “Can it get sticky? It could. And if it does get sticky we got to do right by the guys that are signed here and we’ll address it if it is.

“I think Tuukka acknowledged that. He’s a good pro, he’s a good person. I don’t think he’s here trying to create any issues. I think he’s here just trying to get healthy, to be honest with you.”

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.