Earlier this week, Boston Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask hinted at retiring after his contract expires in 2021. If that were the case, it’s time to take a look at what the future of the Boston Bruins goaltending could look like.
Bruins’ Tuukka Rask: Retiring after contract expires ‘a possibility.’ ? https://t.co/IGT5NYrF2B pic.twitter.com/Y3BTgYbFGI
— theScore (@theScore) March 22, 2020
The Current Boston Bruins Goaltending Situation
The Bruins have had one of the best goaltending duos in the league over the last two seasons. A tandem of Rask and Jaroslav Halak continues to give the Bruins a great chance to win every game.
The duo has been rock solid since Halak came to Boston in 2018, but everything could change soon. Halak’s contract expires after the 2019-20 season and he will likely be in high demand. It will be a challenge for the Bruins to sign Halak after this season. They also have decisions to make with Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Joakim Nordstrom who are set to become unrestricted free agents after this season.
If Halak leaves, that would leave Rask as the mainstay between the pipes for his ninth straight season in Boston. He’s posted a 0.921 save percentage with a 2.28 goals-against-average since becoming the number one.
With one year remaining on his contract, Rask would be 34-years-old when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He’s appeared in 536 regular-season games thus far with 89 postseason starts.
Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the league and one of the best in Bruins history. His retirement would leave a large absence between the pipes for the Bruins.
The Future of the Boston Bruins Goaltending
If Halak leaves after this season and Rask retires after 2021, the Bruins will have to find a replacement quickly. Luckily, there are some viable solutions within the organization.
The 6-foot-5 goalie has appeared in 25 games with the Providence Bruins this season. He’s posted impressive numbers this season. His 1.79 goals-against-average and 0.936 save percentage rank first in the AHL among qualified goaltenders (goalies must have 1,200 minutes to be considered qualified).
Vladar is still gaining experience and hasn’t played all that many games, but he’s shown great improvement in his two seasons in the AHL. He’s become one of the top options for the future if he can continue his strong play.
If Rask and Halak were gone today, Maxime Lagace would likely be the next man up. He’s the most qualified and most experienced goalie in the organization. At 27-years-old he’s not a prospect but is the only goaltender in the system with NHL experience.
Lagace has appeared in 17 games with the Vegas Golden Knights, although not faring too strongly in his time. He posted a 3.92 goals-against-average and 0.868 save percentage in his 17 games. He’s had more success at the AHL level in his career posting a 2.79 goals-against-average and 0.908 save percentage in 158 games. He’s unlikely to be the future of the Bruins goaltending but could be a viable backup in the immediate future if needed.
The shiny new-toy on the lot. Swayman signed his entry-level contract with the Bruins last week. The University of Maine product finished his junior season with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a 0.939 save percentage (second in NCAA). He has made the final ten nominees for the Hobey Baker trophy.
Swayman is one of the highest-ranked goalie prospects coming out of college. In an ideal world, Swayman would gain experience at the AHL level then eventually split time with Rask in the NHL. However, if Rask calls it quits after next season, that plan will be scrapped. Regardless, the Bruins are hoping that Swayman will be the next franchise goaltender in due time.
In The End
It’s no mystery that the Tuukka Rask era will end. The Bruins hope that it ends after another contract extension with the goaltender, and not in a year. However, they seem to be in a solid position if that’s the case.
Just weeks ago, it was looking like there would be serious questions about the future between the pipes in Boston. The only concrete plan was hoping that Vladar would pan out. By signing Swayman, the Bruins get a top goalie prospect and bolster their organizational depth. Between Swayman and Vladar, the Bruins have two players that could eventually become the future if Rask hangs up the skates after next season.