BOSTON, MA – When the calendar flips to July 1, Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will become a restricted free agent and will wait for the team to extend a contract offer.
While negotiations were halted during the season, they’ll resume sooner rather than later, according to Rask.
The B’s netminder said he wouldn’t want anything more to stay in Boston – the only NHL team he’s played for in his five-year career.
“I think you guys know the answer to that question,” Rask said on the team’s breakup day when asked where he wants to play next season. “I’ve always said I like it here and I want to come back, so that’s about it.
“It’s not about the money, it’s about what’s good for everybody and I always said I like it here and I think we have a great group of guys and the organization is great, so I wouldn’t see why anybody wouldn’t want to be here. In my case, same thing. I love it here and we just got to make things work, that’s all.”
At the customary end of the year press conference, Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli made no indications that Rask will be playing elsewhere next season.
“I know I’ve seen speculation about moving a goalie and all that stuff, but certainly I’m not inclined to do that,” Chiarelli said. “Tim [Thomas] didn’t have statistically the year he had before, but I thought he had a very good year. We have, if not the best, one of the top three goalie tandems in the league.”
This season, Thomas finished 35-19-1 with a 2.36 goals against average and a .920 save percentage.
Rask, whose season was cut short when he strained his abdomen and groin March 3 against the New York Islanders, finished 11-8-3 with a 2.05 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
From Dec. 29-Jan.22, Rask topped the league in goals against –- peaking at 1.41 per game –- before being leapfrogged by Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues.
“I felt good before the injury,” Rask said. “I had a good start, I lost some games and had a bad stretch there and didn’t win some games and then I got hurt.
“I was feeling good before I got hurt, so I guess I was making progress in the right way. But it’s always tough when you play 20 games and then you get hurt so you feel like your season’s not long enough.”
After nearly six weeks of rehabilitation, Rask began to practice with the club April 9 and was able to join the team on the bench as Thomas’ backup in Games 6 and 7 against the Washington Capitals.
Rask admitted it was tough to watch the team fall to the Capitals in the first round, but now the focus is turned towards his contract and making his return next season.
“I just got to wash this season off,” Rask said. “It was a tough ending for this team and for me as a person since the injury.
“But I just got to work hard during the summer and get myself in good shape for the training camp and be ready for a big year because it’s big summer for me. I don’t have a contract yet so we got to figure that out and be ready to have a good season next year.”