Tuukka Rask signed a new contract to play hockey for the Boston Bruins on Thursday. Soon after the news broke that Rask was staying in Boston for eight years while being paid $56 million to do so, there was plenty of reaction.
As is usually the case, the negative reaction, while not necessarily outweighing the positive, was certainly much louder. Also, people love to be mad.
Some fans and media (likely the same ones who bemoaned the Bruins for years for not doing enough to re-sign key players) rushed to their keyboard or smartphones to fire off tweets about how concerned they were about an eight-year deal, especially for a goalie.
“Eight years? For a goalie? Are the Bruins taking crazy pills?”
Not sure if that was an actual tweet, but whatever, you get the picture. Furthermore, everyone was quick to construct lists of other goalies who have gotten long contracts and then, well, sucked at their job after putting pen to paper.
Ironically, we can turn to Ilya Bryzgalov (now that was a bad contact) to give us some perspective.
Seriously people, why you “heff to be mad?”
Rask’s contract is long, there’s no doubting that. In fact, the eight years of term is the most that the Bruins could have offered the goaltender under the new collective bargaining agreement. And while trends are helpful when assessing these situations, so too is looking deeper at those people or things that make up the trends. For example, was Bryzgalov’s contract (nine years and $51 million) bad because it was nine years or is it bad because it was given to Bryzgalov? The New Islanders gave Rick DiPietro 15 years and $67 million — after 133 games in the NHL. That. Is. Absurd. Is it even fair to compare Rask’s eight-year contract to a 15-year pact? Fifteen freaking years, people. The same could probably also be said for Roberto Luongo‘s 12-year deal in Vancouver.
The thing is, is that it’s a little disingenuous to compare Rask’s deal to these inane contracts. It’s not quite apples and oranges, but it’s not apples to apples, either. If you want to compare Rask’s contract to those of Jonathan Quick (10 years, $58 million) or Pekka Rinne (seven years, $49 million), go right ahead. The length and cap hits are similar, and all three goalies were coming off impressive seasons and playoff performances when they signed their contract extensions — as it should be.
It’s also worth noting that the Bruins didn’t have much of a choice. Rask was a restricted free agent, and he would have been an unrestricted free agent after next season. Following a season in which he got you to within two wins of a Stanley Cup, are you really willing to let him test the market? Ask the Ottawa Senators what happens when you let someone test the market, even if it’s someone as loyal as Daniel Alfredsson.
Rask has done all he could to prove himself, and while he may not be one of the top two or three goalies in the NHL, he’s certainly among the five or six. Is that worth giving him this deal? Well, yeah, kind of. Because if the Bruins didn’t give him the deal, someone else would. So at the very least you sign the deal, even if it is a bit long, and you let Rask do his thing for the first few years and then take it from there. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be good for the first three or four years of the deal, which brings us to our next point.
According to CapGeek.com, who kind of knows what they’re talking about when it comes to these things, there are a variety of movement clauses in the new deal. Rask reportedly has a no-movement clause for the first four years. That makes sense, as everyone wants stability for at least a little while, and if Rask is so bad in the first four years that you’d want to get rid of him, then we were all duped in regards to his ability. Anyway, once that four-year no-movement period is over, the Bruins can look to move Rask if they want. He reportedly has a limited no-trade clause in which he’ll have to submit a list of eight teams he’d accept a trade to, and he’ll eventually have to submit a list of 18 teams he’d approve joining.
Those are what we like to call “outs.” While the salary cap is tight this season (thanks again, lockout), many feel that $64.3 million figure will increase and will do so sooner than later. At that point, a $7 million cap hit might not seem as bad. And at the very least, the Flyers will probably still be looking for a goalie to spend millions on. So there’s that, too.
Is Rask’s contract ideal? No, probably not. But given the market, the player and the timing, the Bruins didn’t have much of a choice. Only time will tell if Rask becomes the latest goalie to ruin a long-term deal. Panicking about that now, though, is a little zany not to mention a little bit misguided.