While he could still be a ways away from returning to any NHL roster, goaltender Tuukka Rask was back on the ice on Monday, skating with his former team the Boston Bruins. He looked pretty good after offseason hip surgery and some are wondering if this is the first sign that he could be nearing a return and if talks about a potential contract with the Bruins is next on the agenda.
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“He is on the ice skating on his own with no equipment, not taking shots, I know that part,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters Tuesday. Suggesting Rask is on target for the expected return date to the ice, Cassidy added, “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.”
There is no link to the team at this point says Cassidy who noted that, “He’s here in the morning working with some of our trainers, using the facility, and then he leaves.” He noted that it’s worked out well to give him some ice time and “Tuukka’s just coming in, being a good professional.”
While he’s still recovering, both Rask and the Bruins have stated publicly that the plan would be for him to return to the team at some point this season. Tuukka stated, “It would be a shame to go somewhere and try to chase something dollar-wise or trophy-wise when you have a chance to finish your career with the same team you started with.” He added that money shouldn’t be a problem when he stated, “I feel the Bruins are my home, Boston is my home, and I’ve always wanted to play here, stay here. The money won’t be an issue.”
The expectation is that he’ll sign for close to or league minimum on a pro-rated basis.
As for when he might return, that might not be imminent. First, just because he’s skating, it does not mean he’s anywhere near ready for game action. Second, the Bruins aren’t in goaltending trouble as rookie Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have played well.
Still, Rask being on the ice is nothing but good news for Boston as it means he’s probably getting closer and should something unfortunate happen (injury or COVID), Rask might not be much more than a phone call and a paper transaction away from helping out.
Rask is still an unrestricted free agent and he would need to sign a new deal before he could play.
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