WILMINGTON, Mass. — Tuukka Rask has agreed to just a one-year deal with the Bruins, but general manager Peter Chiarelli expects the young netminder to be Boston's No. 1 goalie for a lot longer than that.
Chiarelli spoke between sessions of the Bruins development camp at Ristuccia Arena on Friday, confirming that the Bruins and Rask have reached an agreement in principle on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. The contract cannot be registered until July 1 because of salary cap issues, the same as with Chris Kelly's recent four-year extension, but the deal is done and the Bruins don't have to worry about another team attempting to poach their new starting goalie in free agency.
The one-year term was a bit of a surprise with fellow restricted free agent goalie Cory Schneider getting three years and $12 million to stay with Vancouver, but Chiarelli stressed both sides were content with the shorter deal and both hope to keep Rask in Boston for much longer.
"He wants to prove that he's a No. 1 goalie for the Bruins for a long time," Chiarelli said. "This was the easiest way to set the stage for that. Tuukka's been a really good goalie for us, but [except] for one year he really hasn't been the No. 1 goalie. The stage is set for him and we'll see where it takes us."
Barring any changes in the new collective bargaining agreement that needs to be hammered out this offseason, the Bruins will be free to negotiate another extension with Rask in January. Under the current CBA, Rask, 25, will still be a restricted free agent when this extension expires next summer. There is a possibility that the new CBA could drop the age for unrestricted free agency, but Chiarelli doesn't expect any issues keeping Rask in Boston regardless of what provisions get placed in the CBA.
"In an ideal world, this is a contract that we look to extend come January," Chiarelli said. "If he's a UFA next year we'll just have to deal with it proactively."
Chiarelli was proactive in getting Rask signed before he could be exposed to a potential offer sheet on July 1, but the Bruins GM didn't expect any of his counterparts to go down that route even with the limited options available on the goalie market this summer.
"We've all been following the goalie carousel in the last little bit," Chiarelli said. "I guess someone could have given him an offer sheet and we would have matched. There's certain ways to present an offer sheet, but certainly there was no indication to me and generally you have a sense from other teams that that was going to happen, but there was absolutely no indication to me that that was on the horizon."
Instead, Chiarelli and Rask came to terms on a one-year deal that will give Rask an opportunity to prove he can be a No. 1 netminder in the NHL and cash in on that next year with a longer commitment.
"It's a testament to Tuukka that he's willing to do this for one year," Chiarelli said. "He's a calm, poised goaltender who you see little bits of the fiery temper here and there, and I don't mind that. But generally speaking he's a goalie who's composed and technically very good and athletic at the same time. I don't have any reasons to think that he's not going to emerge as the No. 1 for years to come. I don't really have any concerns about it."
Rask does have some experience as a starter, and was pretty successful. He supplanted Tim Thomas in 2009-10 and led the NHL with a 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage that season. He's bided his time behind Thomas since then, but now will get the chance to start an even longer run as Boston's undisputed No. 1 netminder.