As far as Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney is concerned, goalie Tuukka Rask isn’t going anywhere this offseason and will remain the Bruins starting goaltender for the final season of his eight-year, $56 million contract that expires after the 2020-21 regular season.
“I haven’t had a conversation subsequent to when Tuukka left, we checked up on him to make sure him and his family are doing well and our reports are that they are indeed doing well,” Sweeney said Wednesday morning in an end of the season Zoom call with the media. “I have zero reservations about where Tuukka will be both on and off the ice for us. We feel we’ve had strong goaltending the last couple of years, we’ve done a good job of mapping out the health of both players and preserving when they’re at their best. We continue to want to do that going forward and I think we’re in a really good spot with our goaltending. We’ll address needs as we see them going forward.”
Since Tuukka Rask exited the NHL bubble prior to Game 3 of the Bruins’ first round series win against the Carolina Hurricanes to attend to a family emergency back in Boston, there has been plenty of speculation about Rask’s status with the Bruins and if he would play out the final year of his contract in Boston. This wasn’t the first time that Rask had to take a break from playing to attend to personal matters at home and the speculation was that the 33-year-old netminder may retire or that he and the Bruins may decide to part ways for a fresh start for all involved.
Sweeney hasn’t discussed Rask’s future with the franchise’s winningest goalie just yet but when asked once again where Rask might be mentally right now, the Bruins GM made it clear that he believes Tuukka Rask and Jaro Halak will once again be the Bruins’ goaltending tandem whenever next season begins.
“I have zero reservations,” Sweeney said again. “If you look at Tuukka’s actual play – I do believe he’s a Vezina finalist this year. For me, that pretty much dictates everything. Obviously, his own personal life, we all have matters that at times we have to deal with and he’s been given the opportunities in a couple of instances to make sure he feels good on and off the ice. I think any player, any manager, any person involved in a sport or in life would respect – has to respect that people have to tend to their own personal business. How he chooses to do that is his own decision and his alone.
We provide resources for all of our players to work through any issues that they may or may not have on and off the ice and then provide support accordingly. And we’re not going to deviate from that. You have to respect his privacy and allow him the latitude to take care of it. And ultimately it hasn’t affected his play on the ice. We have good goaltending and we’ll continue to do so.”
As for the future and where the Bruins will be between the pipes when both Rask’s and Halak’s contracts expire after next season, Sweeney indicated he will explore external options but expressed confidence in the team’s rising young goalies in their system.
“I think we’ve got a couple of younger players in [Dan] Vladar and [Jeremy] Swayman and [Kyle] Keyser coming back off of an injury that will battle for playing time and we’ll allow those guys to continue to battle for playing time,” Sweeney said of the team’s goaltending depth.