Boston Bruins eyeing a Tuukka Rask return early next year

tuukka rask bruins
May 10, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) in goal during the third period against the New York Islanders at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Tuesday that he thinks unrestricted free-agent goalie Tuukka Rask is still “on target” to return to the NHL early next year.

Rask, who spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Bruins before having surgery in July for a torn labrum in his right hip, has been skating at the Bruins’ practice facility, but it isn’t clear when he will be ready to play again or which team he might wind up with.

Tuukka Rask still on target to return

“I was told originally that the timeline for him to return to play — wherever that is, whether it’s Boston or somewhere else — would be January to February,” Cassidy said Tuesday. “I guess the best I can tell you is he’s on target for that.”

In August, Rask said he might be ready to return in late December, and that he would be a “cheap goalie” for the Bruins should they decide to sign him. In 24 games last season, Rask was 15-5-2 with a 2.28 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and two shutouts.

tuukka rask
May 21, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) congratulates goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) after defeating the Washington Capitals in game four of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Rask, 34, is the Bruins’ career leader in wins with 306 and is second in shutouts with 52, behind Hall of Famer Tiny Thompson (74 from 1928-38). In 560 games, Rask is 306-163-66 with a 2.27 GAA and .921 save percentage. He helped the Bruins advance to two Stanley Cup Finals — in 2013 against Chicago Blackhawks and in 2019 against the St. Louis Blues. The Bruins lost both series.

Rask only wants to play for the Bruins

“I have been so lucky to be part of only one team in the NHL,” Rask said in August. “For me, it’s about that pride of playing for one team and one team only. I have no reason to chase the money anymore and go somewhere else.

“It’s going to be one of those things where the Bruins are my home, Boston is my home. I’ve always wanted to play here, wanted to stay here. So the money won’t be an issue. We had a conversation with [Bruins general manager Don Sweeney], and I will be a cheap goalie for them.”

The Bruins (5-4-0) are using Linus Ullmark and rookie Jeremy Swayman in goal this season. Ullmark is 3-2-0 with a 2.59 GAA and .918 save percentage in five games, and Swayman is 2-2-0 with 2.28/.900 numbers in four games.

Ullmark signed a four-year, $20 million contract as a free agent on July 28.

–Field Level Media