Boston Bruins

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - MAY 31: Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins looks on during a practice session ahead of Game Three of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Enterprise Center on May 31, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Free agent goaltender Tuukka Rask’s inevitable return to the Boston Bruins is now and officially just weeks, perhaps even just days, away.

And though the sides have yet to nail down a contract, the plan for the 34-year-old is beginning to take shape, as explained by B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy.

“The immediate plan is he’s here [and] he’s going to practice with us this week,” Cassidy said following Tuesday’s morning skate. “He will not travel to Tampa or Washington. I think there will be a conversation, obviously then with Don [Sweeney] about Providence. I think it’s the best opportunity for him to get live action. So they’ll have that discussion. I mean, I know it’s been thrown out there — whether it happens or not — between Tuukka, his reps, and Donny. But that would be the timeline if he’s going to go down there. I think everything else is on schedule.”

Providence’s upcoming schedule certainly benefits Rask when it comes to getting some work in, too, as the team is slated to play two home games in three days beginning Friday night at the Dunk against Lehigh Valley. The P-Bruins will also have a three-in-three the following weekend, with two of those games coming on Providence ice.

Rask has been working with the Bruins at Warrior Ice Arena for the better part of a month, first on his own with team staff and then with the team as an emergency fill-in goaltender, and there’s been nothing from that work that’s left the Bruins concerned about his ability to rejoin the team at the level they expect.

“He looks good. I mean, I’ve watched him for years, so I’m stating the obvious,” Cassidy offered. “He’s an excellent goaltender. Technically sound, not a lot of wasted movements for Tuukka. It’s been his strength since he came into the league as a 20-year-old. It’s been well-documented. If you go back and look at the scouting reports, people have talked about that as his strength. He just was always — I remember in Providence as a young guy — he’s just in control, and that’s been his game from day one.

“He certainly looks the part out there right now. He’s come along very well. You’re never sure with surgery, how it will go, complications, et cetera, he got through it. But the work and I’ve seen him in the gym every morning here. So clearly he’s taken it seriously and wants to rehab as quickly as possible. So credit him 100 hundred percent for his work ethic through this whole thing. Looks good on the ice, and time will tell how that translates.”

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter where Rask plays until he gets the go ahead from team doctors.

“Doesn’t matter if it’s the American League or the NHL, he needs to be cleared [to play first],” Cassidy said. “So that’s the next hurdle for him: the clearance to play.”

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 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.