Tuukka Rask made it clear after Game 1 of the Bruins’ first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Capitals — Boston’s only loss in its five-game victory over Washington — that he wasn’t thinking about his NHL future.
Still, the 34-year-old goaltender, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, raised a few eyebrows by responding, “You’ll find out,” when asked whether he can continue to perform physically beyond this season.
“I took that question as my health question, actually. That was not about my contract situation,” Rask said on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” “I think Kevin Paul Dupont (of The Boston Globe) asked me about my health, and I told him I’d talk to him after the season. But if you’re talking contract status, we haven’t obviously had any discussions during the playoffs. So, we’ll find out. There’s gonna be some, obviously, decisions to be made. And we’ll see. There’s no pressure about that. I’m sure we’re gonna have good talks and come to a conclusion that pleases everybody.”
Rask, the 21st overall pick in 2005, is in the midst of his 14th NHL season. He’s played in 560 career regular-season games, and Saturday night’s showdown against the Islanders at TD Garden will mark his 99th career playoff start.
It’s reasonable to surmise Rask has more hockey behind him than in front of him, but he’s still thriving between the pipes and has shown no signs of slowing down. His long-term plans might simply hinge on his own interests — not necessarily a battle against his own body and Father Time.
“With my style, I could probably play 10 more years if I wanted to,” Rask said Friday. “It’s just a matter of how long you wanna play, and that’s the question I have to ask myself: How long do I want to keep doing this? Because it takes a lot of time and effort every season to prepare yourself and go through that grind.
“So those are the questions I gotta ask, because if you sign a contract and you play, you have to commit to it, and you don’t wanna be second-guessing yourself midway through the season — ‘why did I keep playing,’ when you’re just totally checked out. I could play 10 more years with my style of hockey, but I’m definitely not gonna play that long. It’s just a matter of how long I wanna keep grinding it out.”
The Bruins, of course, have Jeremy Swayman waiting in the wings. The 22-year-old netminder was excellent in 10 regular-season starts and looks well-equipped to assume a bigger role moving forward.
But the extent of that role obviously will depend on what happens with Rask this offseason. And while there definitely is some uncertainty regarding the veteran’s future in Boston, it’s clear both Rask and the Bruins are comfortable crossing that bridge when they get to it after the playoffs.
The goal, after all, is to win a Stanley Cup right now.