Bruins’ Rask Hints at Possible Retirement

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is working on the back end of his eight-year contract. Following the end of this season (whenever that may be, as the league is on pause with the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak), he will have one more year remaining before he becomes a free agent.

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At 33 years old, Rask could be considered in the prime of his NHL career. With goalies at this age in their careers, it’s almost a given that they could cash in with at least one more big payday in their career. According to Rask, he recently hinted at the fact that another contract might not be in his future, and that he could consider retirement following when his contract expires next summer.

Rask Having Vezina Season

It isn’t every year that an NHL goalie having the season Rask is having is thinking about retirement in their prime. He is 28-8-6 this season with a 2.12 goals-against average (GAA) and a .929 save percentage (SV%) to go along with five shutouts. He certainly is in the running for the Vezina Trophy this season, if not the leader for the award.

Tuukka Rask Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When the National Hockey League shut down operations and sent their players home earlier this month due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, the Bruins were sitting on top of the league standings with 100 points. With 12 games remaining in the regular-season and a six-point lead on the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues, they were on course to win the Presidents’ Trophy and secure home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. It’s safe to say that Rask’s play had a big hand in the Bruins spot in the standings.

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Rask had two shutouts in his final four starts prior to the pause. Against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29, he made 25 saves in a 4-0 Bruins victory on the road. On March 10, two nights before the league shut down, he turned in his most impressive performance of the season in a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center, making 36 saves to snap the Flyers nine-game winning streak.

Big Reason For Bruins Success

Since he signed his eight-year, $56 million contract prior to the 2013-14 season, Rask has been a big reason for the Bruins being one of the top teams in the league on a consistent basis during the time of his contract. Boston was on pace for their second Presidents’ Trophy in six years with him between the pipes.

Qualifying for the playoffs in five of the last seven seasons, Boston has made two Stanley Cup Final appearances with Rask. In 2012-13, the Bruins lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Last season, they lost in seven games to the St. Louis Blues. Both series-ending losses happened at the TD Garden.

Tuukka Rask Alexander Steen Charlie McAvoy
Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask turns the puck away as St. Louis Blues’ Alexander Steen tries to score (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Rask has 225 wins in his last six seasons with 34 shutouts. He is 29-25 in the playoffs during that time. He has 291 career wins for the Bruins with 50 shutouts and a 2.26 GAA and a .922 SV%. Not bad for someone who is contemplating retirement.

I have one year left in the contract, so we’ll see if I even play.

Tuukka Rask (from ‘Could Tuukka Rask retire after his current deal is up?’, The Boston Globe – 3/22/20)

He owns the team record for most regular-season games played with 536 and is the leader in minutes played at 30,810. He is the all-time saves leader with 13,711 stops and has a .922 SV%. He is second with a career 2.58 GAA, behind Pete Peters who finished with a 2.34 GAA.

Recent Injuries

Rask has not been able to avoid injuries during his tenure with the Bruins. He has dealt with hamstring and groin injuries, which are common for goaltenders. He has also dealt with a much scarier issue.

In January of 2019, he suffered a concussion when he collided with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil and missed some time. Most recently, he suffered his second concussion in a calendar year on Jan. 14 when he was hit in the head by Columbus Blue Jackets forward Emil Bemstrom. Rask missed three weeks and the All-Star Game because of the injury.

Uncertain Future

When one of the best goalies in the league says he has thought about retirement when he could be in a for a big payday in just over a year, it’s not everyday news, especially when the news involves a player on the verge of possibly taking home the top award for that position.

Who knows what the ceiling would be for Rask when it is time for a new contract. What he would earn would most likely put him at the top of the payscale for goalies. He could play as long as he would like, possibly into his early 40s as some goalies have, as long his health is good.

Regardless, it’s hard to imagine that the Bruins won’t be looking at a long-term plan without the possibility of not having Rask the following next year. However, they have to start putting plans in place that next season could be his last for Boston.