It’s now not a matter of if, but when.
Tuukka Rask on Thursday signed a professional tryout contract (PTO) with the Providence Bruins, a formality in him beginning his rehab after hip surgery and returning to the Boston Bruins. The veteran goalkeeper has been practicing with the Bruins at Warrior Ice Arena and was anticipated to start for Providence before Friday’s game was postponed.
But where does that leave Boston’s other two goalies, who really have found their stride in recent weeks? We’re not entirely sure, but coach Bruce Cassidy assured he had a sit-down with both Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman to prepare them for the event that Rask came back.
“So, they knew from Day 1 — they’ve been working in net together,” Cassidy told reporters via Eric Russo. “In practice, I can’t say enough about all three of them. Tuukka’s been a real pro. At first, he was in here early, gone before most of the guys came in. He did not want to be a distraction, but eventually he needed to get live shots. So, we worked that out.
“He’d be the third goalie in the net, so I think they’ve all got sort of their workload. (Goalie coach Bob Essensa) has done a good job balancing that, putting our two guys first and then getting Tuukka’s work.”
Rask doesn’t look to come in and sign a huge contract, he just wants to help the team in any way possible.
It just puts Swayman in a precarious situation — the youngest of the goalie trio who last season, as a rookie, earned a backup role behind Rask for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The youngster would be eligible to return to Providence without passing through waivers, but there’s no plan for that yet considering how valuable he’s been.
Cassidy mentioned using the taxi squad as a way to manage the goalie rotation, but it’s a fluid situation.
“I think if you ask any goalie, one net for three goalies at some point becomes a challenge,” Cassidy said.
“But we’ll do whatever we have to do to get everyone in the right spot. At the end of the day, I’ll say this about any position: you never want a young player that’s still in development, still building his game to a certain extent, sitting out too long, whether he’s a goalie, D, or forward. So, we have to manage that if it does become Swayman. But by the same token, if he’s given us the best chance to win, then we’ve got to factor it in that that he needs his share of starts.”
Champagne problems, unless you’re one of the goalies playing for more time.
“It’s a good problem to have, no matter how it plays out, when your goalies are playing better,” Cassidy said. “We want to be one of the elite teams in the league and we’re trending towards that. So that’s a good thing. And Tuukka could only help us with that, if in fact, he ends up being a Bruin.”