The Boston Bruins are a team to watch before the April 12 trade deadline as they explore options to improve a roster that needs another scorer and a veteran defenseman.
The B's are three points behind the Washington Capitals for first place in the East Division with two games in hand.
Boston again looks like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, but reinforcements are needed, especially on the blue line where youth/inexperience and injuries to Jeremy Lauzon, Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller have tested the team's depth.
The Bruins also need to keep an eye toward the future, and this coming offseason will be a pivotal one for the franchise with several important players set to become free agents. Two of those players are Boston's goalie tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Both are able to become unrestricted free agents over the summer.
Longtime reporter Bob McKenzie provided an update on the Bruins' goalie situation during NBC Sports Network's coverage of Bruins-Capitals on Wednesday night. He revealed the Bruins are open to doing new contracts for these netminders during the season.
“The interesting thing for me is they’ve got both goaltenders -- Jaro Halak, their backup goaltender, and of course Tuukka Rask, their veteran number one -- they’re both on expiring contracts," McKenzie said. "So, could there be contract talks in-season to get something done? I think the short answer to that is, yes. The Bruins are not opposed to bringing back one or both of these guys and doing in-season contracts, if they get the sense from the goaltenders that’s what they want to do.
“Rask is really the key here. How much longer does he want to play? And I think the Bruins are waiting for some sort of indication from him on how he’d like to proceed, but the Bruins, by all means, are open to having one or both of these guys back. They have to do a little bit of a dance in terms of Jeremy Swayman or Daniel Vladar, their younger goalies in the system. Is one of them ready to step up just yet, or how would all those pieces of the puzzle fit? But all things considered, the veteran goaltender Rask and the veteran Halak may be getting contracts before the end of the season if that’s the way they want to go.”
Rask, in particular, should absolutely be extended if that's what he wants. The 33-year-old veteran is statistically the best goalie in franchise history. He came close to leading the Bruins to Stanley Cup titles in 2013 and 2019, but the team ultimately fell short.
Rask is 8-3-2 with a .902 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA this season. He was the runner-up in Vezina Trophy voting last year. He's still a top-tier goaltender, and the Bruins should make a strong effort to re-sign him. Jeremy Swayman and Daniel Vladar, whom McKenzie noted above, are promising prospects, but neither player is close to being a No. 1 goalie at the NHL level right now.