At $7 million per season Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has a colossal contract. He also has a “No Move Clause” that means he has a secure future in Boston. With an eight-year $56 million contract signed in 2013, Rask is living large. Is he worth what the Bruins are paying him?
Tuuka Rask won the Vezina Trophy in the 2013=14 season. As my colleague with The Hockey Writers, Cam Hasbrouck wrote a few months ago in “Is Tuukka Rask Still a Vezina-Worthy Goaltender?” Rask had a phenomenal year that was well-deserving of his winning the trophy. Hasbrouck recounted his statistics that season which were outstanding. “His .930 save percentage, paired with a 2.04 goals-against average led him to a 36-15-6 record with the Bruins. He led the league with seven shutouts, and allowed two goals or fewer in 38 of his 58 starts.” Nobody could argue with any legitimacy that Rask was not due the accolades and the Vezina Trophy.
Here we are a couple of years later and Rask is firmly entrenched as the Bruins’ long-term goalie. A quick glance at the most recent top 30 NHL.com fantasy goalies finds Rask slotted at 13. He has appeared in 16 games thus far and has a record of 8-7-1. His save percentage is .899 and goals against average is 2.94. It’s early, but those numbers are not in any way comparable to what Bruins fans are used to from their top goalie.
To be fair, Rask has elevated his play lately, as evidenced by this recent tweet:
Tuukka Rask's SV% last 6 games
Adj SV% .932
5v5 Adj SV% .944
High Danger SV% .875
— Nicholas W. Goss (@NickGossNESN) November 24, 2015
My point is not that Rask is a bad goalie at all. My point is that Boston is locked into a colossal contract with Rask that may turn out to be something they wish they had done gotten into.
Tuukka and Cam
The 28-year old from Finland has already had a storied career and there is no doubt a lot more history that Rask will write for the Bruins. The team I am credentialed to cover for The Hockey Writers is the Carolina Hurricanes, and I can tell you that having merely a serviceable goalie like Cam Ward is not going to propel the team to the playoffs. Ward has a no-trade clause and the ‘Canes are thankfully in the final year of his contract which is paying him over $6 million this season.
I see a similar future for the Bruins and Rask. Roll the tape forward a couple of years and Boston may well be staring at that $7 million a year and saying, “What were we thinking when we signed this thing?” I am not comparing Ward now to Rask now. I am saying that Rask’s colossal contract may bite Boston the way Ward’s has bitten Carolina.
Here are two guys with similar great early success who cashed in while they could. Ward has been stout at times and has suffered from a team that has not produced much offense in the past couple of seasons. Rask has been in a similar position, carrying the Bruins last year while they struggled offensively. He has made some great saves recently like this one against the Toronto Maple Leafs:
Tuukka Rask saves the game in OT vs. JVR — WATCH:https://t.co/WrV9byllvO
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 24, 2015
Rask is a beast, there is no question. But, his contract may turn out to become a colossal headache for the Bruins in a couple of years.
By the way, Jonas Gustavsson has been an excellent backup to Rask this season. Another of my colleagues at The Hockey Writers, Joe Marraccino included Gustavsson in his “3 Things The Boston Bruins Should Be Thankful For.”
Perhaps Rask has elevated his play lately because Gustavsson has lit a fire under him. For now, the Bruins are indeed thankful to have an elite goalie in Rask, and a backup that is proving reliable in Gustavsson.