Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Tuukka Rich

If the sound of cash registers was heard today, you were probably near Boston. Tuukka Rask, goaltender for the Boston Bruins, just signed an eight-year, $56 million contract to elevate him to the same level of pay as Pekka Rinne. While there could be some debate about which goaltender is better, there is no doubt that the Bruins went all-in on Rask being their guy for what seems like ever.

Rask was on record as saying that he'd like to play for the Bruins "forever", and the Bruins reciprocated those feelings by giving him the longest contract possible under the new CBA rules. The dollar amount isn't that bad either when you consider that Rask will now be the highest-paid goalie alongside Rinne. He will earn more than Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick ($5.8 million/season), Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward ($6.3 million), and three-time Stanley Cup champion Martin Brodeur ($4.5 million). While I'm not saying that Tuukka Rask hasn't exceeded any of these goaltenders in his ability, it seems odd for the Bruins to issue a goaltender with one year of solid NHL netminding a contract with a massive raise and a long term. GM Peter Chiarelli doesn't usually do things like this.

I will admit that goaltending is the backbone of any successful team, and that teams who have solid goaltending tend to do well over the course of many seasons. New Jersey, Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago are all prime examples of how a solid netminder can carry a team further than any one other player. But you also have to look at some of the long-term signings that haven't worked out so well and wonder if Rask's play may fall off under the weight of this deal.

Ilya Bryzgalov's insane contract earned him a sweet buyout, but the goaltender probably won't play in North America again. Rick DiPietro can probably serve as a backup in some NHL city, but he'll be counting his buyout money from his ridiculous contract until he's 50. While the vast amount of goaltenders earning above the $6 million mark are proving to be solid investments, you wonder if Ryan Miller, Niklas Backstrom, Carey Price, or Henrik Lundqvist will ever hoist a Stanley Cup. The same, at this point, can be said for Tuukka Rask.

I think the upside on Rask is that he's still young and he has a lot of hockey left in him. He can continue to grow with experience, and his netminding skills shouldn't see any sort of deterioration over the length of this contract. There is always risk in signing a contract like this, but the reward will be a healthy Tuukka Rask at the end of this deal with a pile of hardware on his mantle.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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