In the last year of his initial two-year contract with the Bruins, Jaroslav Halak probably could have tried for a No. 1 goaltending job somewhere in free agency based on the two seasons he’s had in Boston.
But the 35-year-old goalie was also facing unprecedented uncertainty given the coronavirus crisis that’s put the 2019-20 season on pause and has put into question exactly when next season will even begin. So, Halak made the smartest move and instead signed a one-year extension with the Bruins for next year that will pay him $2.25 million along with a very easily attained $1.25 million in bonus money.
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Halak will again back up Tuukka Rask, but he’ll also get plenty of playing time, continue to suit up for an elite NHL team and make certain he’s got a job next season no matter what the salary cap landscape looks like.
"It made me think, not knowing what's going to happen this year or next,” said Halak, who is still in Boston while quarantining with his family the past few months. “There's always positives that the team is great, the fans are great. It wasn't tough to take a one-year deal. It’s been a special group. We have unfinished business.”
Halak was 40-17-10 in his two seasons with the Bruins with save percentages of .922 and .919, and has, even more importantly, allowed the Bruins to limit Rask’s workload to the ideal 50-game range. At the time of the 2019-20 regular season being shut down, the Bruins goaltenders were leading the NHL with a 2.39 goals-against average and .921 save percentage on the way to winning the Jennings Trophy as the league’s best goaltending duo.
Now that will continue for at least one more season while young B’s goaltending prospects Daniel Vladar, Jeremy Swayman and Kyle Keyser get another season of development before they might be pushed into action.