The Boston Bruins ended the suspense with veteran netminder Tuukka Rask on Thursday and officially signed the goalie to a professional tryout agreement with the Providence Bruins. Rask is scheduled to play with the P-Bruins on Friday night and perhaps again this weekend with the Black and Gold on the road in Tampa Bay and Washington after wrapping up their homestand with a Thursday night match against the Minnesota Wild.
The Bruins were very interested in Rask signing a PTO with Providence, getting in some game action and showing the health of his surgically repaired hip, and this is all that stands between Rask and the Bruins signing an NHL following a few dress rehearsals. Certainly it could make for an interesting fan experience in Providence.
Hide all the milk crates in Providence on Friday night pic.twitter.com/KWZX40iMXw
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) January 6, 2022
Rask’s agent confirmed to Boston Hockey Now earlier that the Bruins would be the only place that the goalie was interested in signing for this season, a report first confirmed by our friends at PuckPedia on Wednesday.
Rask was spotted at P-Bruins practice on Thursday ahead of getting into some minor league hockey action this weekend with an expected Friday night start vs. the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
And here he is pic.twitter.com/eVfeuxqH3L
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) January 6, 2022
All of it sets up a strained situation at the NHL level, however, as the Bruins have few choices as to what they can do with the current goaltending duo of Linus Ullmark and rookie Jeremy Swayman. Ullmark is 9-5-0 with a 2.58 goals against average and .917 save percentage and Swayman has been even better with 8-5-2 with a 2.21 goals against average and .920 save percentage.
The Boston Bruins are currently 10th in the NHL with a .918 save percentage and seventh with a 2.59 goals against average, and have clearly shown they can do the job perfectly fine with or without Rask. Ullmark has a full no-movement clause after signing a four-year, $20 million contract this season, and has little desire to go anywhere after purchasing a house in Newton this summer and going to the lengths of putting the Boston skyline on his goalie pads.
“I can’t say enough about all three of theem. Tuukka has been a real pro. Step 1 will be in Providence [for Tuukka] & then go from there. He still doesn’t have a contract,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who said he sat down with both Ullmark and Swayman and explained the situation at the beginning of the year and how things could all play out. “At end of the day, we’ll do what’s best for the B’s. Hopefully everybody plays well & it’s a good problem to have”
That leaves the youngster Swayman as the likely odd-man out in a three goaltender situation once Rask is signed, sealed and delivered to Boston, and that’s really not a good situation for the young goaltender’s development. Either he’ll be playing against AHL competition that he dominated last season before being promoted to Boston, or Swayman will be part of a three-goalie rotation at the NHL that isn’t going to be enough playing time to keep all three players sharp.
There’s no denying, however, that Rask could be an asset as the winningest goaltender in Boston Bruins franchise history and the kind of experienced, seasoned goaltending veteran that Boston doesn’t have in their current goaltending duo.