Tuukka Rask is going to journey back to North America in the coming days.
It has been known since the end of the season that the longtime Boston Bruins goalie would need surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, which would cost him the beginning of next season.
At the time of the announcement, the date of the procedure had not been known. However B’s general manager Don Sweeney indicated Thursday that Rask would be returning from Finland soon.
“He’s coming up at the end of the month here, returning to the United States to have the procedure done with Dr. Kelly,” Sweeney said over Zoom. “We’ll just allow him to go through the rehab process and both mentally and physically see where he’s at. I’ve had great communication with Tuukka throughout the year and the end of the year. Obviously, we had more knowledge than most people in terms of what he was dealing with. Really just allowing the medical stuff to be at the forefront and that’s important for Tuukka and his health.”
The Bruins could sign Rask right away and stash him on long-term injured reserve, which would take his cap hit off the books until he’s good to return. They also could just wait to sign him until he’s ready to return to practice, at which point he would play on a prorated deal for the upcoming season.
Nothing has been decided on either front.
“Well, he won’t be ready for the start of the season, and we know that. We’ll know the timeline associated with it,” Sweeney said. “(Me and Tuukka’s) communication has been good. Just allowing him to get healthy, first and foremost, and we’ll see where he’s at after that, both mentally and physically. Tuukka’s certainly earned that right to make sure he makes the right decisions for his own health and well-being and where he wants to be from a playing standpoint. He was very honest with us in communicating that and we’re honest in terms of what we’d be comfortable with going forward. We’ll see how he progresses from phase to phase.”
While Rask is out, the Bruins are likely to roll with Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar in net, though Sweeney said the Bruins expect to dabble in the free agent goalie market — especially since Jaroslav Halak does not plan to return. Among the veteran netminders available who would be cheap include Linus Ullmark, James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier.
Free agency opens Wednesday.