What if the Boston Bruins decide to shop Tuukka Rask in the coming weeks as the NHL offseason officially gets underway with the NHL Entry Draft on Oct. 6 and NHL Free Agency on Oct. 9?
According to a well-placed source on Tuesday evening, the Bruins have not yet asked Tuukka Rask to waive his modified no-trade clause. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney is scheduled to address the media via a Zoom call on Wednesday morning and Rask will surely come up as a topic for him to address.
The chances of Sweeney revealing his plans for Rask or any player tare about as good as the Bruins’ chances were in the Round Two series against the Tampa Bay Lightning without Rask.
After a brilliant regular season but a tumultuous and shortened postseason, Tuukka Rask has once again become a lightning rod for controversy and there is plenty of buzz within NHL circles that the Bruins could explore trading the 2020 Vezina Trophy finalist who also won the award back in 2014. Rask is entering his walk year as he finishes off an eight-year contract that carried a $7 million cap hit annually. When Rask left the NHL bubble just prior to Game 3 of the Bruins’ first round series against the Carolina Hurricanes to attend to a family emergency, plenty of Bruins fans and some media were once again clamoring for Sweeney to trade the franchise’s winningest goalie.
Sweeney is on record as saying that he and the Bruins “expect” Rask to be back with the team for the final season of his contract in 2020-21 but what if that changes in the next month? Rask has denied a March Boston Globe report that he was contemplating retirement but he has not spoken publicly since releasing a public statement via the team the day he left the bubble. As of now, Rask isn’t scheduled to address the media in the team’s rolling Zoom calls that they have been holding but what if his family situation changed his mind about retirement? Or what if the Bruins have decided that maybe the time has come for them to explore what they can get for Tuukka Rask before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021?
Potential Free Agents To Replace Tuukka Rask
If for whatever reason things were to head in that direction and the Bruins had to begin the post-Tuukka Rask era in the 2020-21 season, and can’t acquire his replacement via trade, here’s a list of potential options that the Bruins could have on the free agent market that kicks off next month:
Braden Holtby – The 31-year-old 2018 Stanley Cup champion is about to finish a contract that carried a $6.1 million cap hit but Holtby has battled injuries the last two seasons and his play has dipped. The longtime Bruins killer was 25-14-6 with a 3.11 GAA and .897 save percentage this past season. Holtby was 2-5-1 with a 2.49 GAA and .906 save percentage in the postseason. There’s a solid chance Holtby could be had for a lot cheaper if the Bruins think he can stay healthy and find his game again.
Corey Crawford – Like Holtby, the 35-year-old three-time Stanley Cup champion has struggled thanks to injuries. Unfortunately, Crawford’s nagging injury has been concussions, and some wonder if he may even retire? Crawford was 16-20-3 with a 2.77 GAA and .918 save percentage this past season and went 4-5 with a 3.31 GAA and .907 save percentage in the playoffs. He carried a $6 million cap hit this season. The read here is that while Crawford definitely will have to take a pay cut, his concussion issues aren’t going away and the Bruins should stay away.
Robin Lehner – With his amazing playoff performance (8-4-0, 1.99 GAA, .918 save percentage) for the Vegas Golden Knights Lehner can definitely expect a pay raise from the $5 million cap hit he carried with the Blackhawks and the Knights this season. That pay raise will go higher the further Lehner carries the Knights and unless the Golden Knights can somehow move the two years with a $7 million cap hit that Marc-Andre Fleury has, Lehner will go the market and hit paydirt. The 29-year-old would be a great signing for the Bruins but likely will be too pricey.
Jacob Markstrom – With the emergence of former Boston College star goalie Thatcher Demko in Vancouver during the seven-game series with the Knights, the Canucks may decide to let Markstrom walk in free agency. The 30-year-old Markstrom carried a $3.6 million cap hit and after going 23-16-0 with a 2.75 GAA and .919 save percentage and then 8-6-0 with a 2.85 GAA and .919 save percentage in the playoffs, Markstrom will get a pay raise but he could still be affordable and a perfect fit to pair with the 35-year-old Jaro Halak for the Bruins.