Tuukka Rask has only one more year left on his contract with the Boston Bruins, which has sparked plenty of questions and debate over his future with the franchise.
B's general manager Don Sweeney was asked about Rask's status during a video press conference Monday, and he noted that nothing has changed with how the team views the veteran goaltender.
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"No, as a matter of fact, our staff has communicated with Tuukka and as I said before, he remains a big part of our roster planning going forward because I think by my knowledge, he was second in the Vezina balloting and we feel very, very comfortable with where our goaltending is at," Sweeney said.
"And I think you’re going to need it. I don’t know what the schedule and what the season – I think there are a lot of things that are up in the air, but it could be a challenging environment from a season standpoint. Might make goaltending even more a big part of what you have to have going forward."
Rask's future has been thrust back into the spotlight after TSN's Frank Seravalli reported last week that "multiple sources indicate that Bruins GM Don Sweeney has initiated conversations with teams about Rask’s market value over the last number of weeks."
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The Bruins have a good backup in Jaroslav Halak. He's played well in that role over the last two seasons and helped Boston win the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals against during the 2019-20 campaign.
Halak, however, is not a No. 1 goalie who's going to lead a team on a Stanley Cup run. Boston's top goalie prospects, Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman, need more experience before being full-time NHL players.
If the Bruins traded Rask, they would need to go out and get another comparable goalie via trade or through the free agent market. There are several veteran netminders expected to hit free agency when the market opens Friday at noon, and that list includes Jacob Markstrom, Robin Lehner, Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford and Henrik Lundqvist.
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One interesting factor in potentially trading Rask is his no-trade protection. CapFriendly and Dominic Tiano of OHL Writers recently provided the details of the veteran goalie's no-trade clause:
So, to recap, if the Bruins wait until Friday and the start of free agency, they can trade Rask to any team without restriction. If a trade goes down before Friday, the Bruins would only be able to move Rask to one of the 15 teams on his trade list.
Sweeney on Monday didn't sound like someone ready to trade Rask, but it's something the Bruins should consider if there's a team willing to give up a strong package of assets to acquire him.