Is Rask Opting Out of Boston?

Is Rask Opting Out of Boston?

Recently the hockey world was shocked by the news of Tuukka Rask opting out of the playoffs. A family medical emergency made it impossible for Rask to stay in the bubble and he needed to be with his family. The Bruins management has publicly supported Rask, as have several of his teammates. But that's publicly what is being said behind closed doors? Rask made some questionable comments prior to opting out. First, saying it didn't feel like playoff hockey but more like an exhibition game. Another said he wasn't concerned with results but was having fun and seeing what happened. Click here for an article covering all the recent comments in question. Could a Tuukka Rask trade be coming?

While the team has supported Rask with a veteran core, there could be some resentment towards his decision. With only so many chances left at a Cup having their star goalie opt-out clearly hurts their chances. Another potential problem arises if Halak can take this team on a run to the finals. What if Halak is a Stanley Cup champion because Rask gave him the starting job? With a flat cap could Rask be traded?

Tuukka Rask Trade

Rask is under contract for one more season with a seven million dollar cap hit. Rask has shown no signs of declining play, so if he is re-signed expect a very similar cap hit. If Halak can lead this team to the Cup, especially with a flat cap, is it worth keeping Rask at that seven million dollar hit? That doesn't take into account any possible rifts in the locker room or with management. Sweeney may have even started the tire pumping on Tuukka. In a media session after the opt-out, Sweeney said Rask is still the goalie who took the team to game seven of the finals last year and he will be that goalie next year. Click here for a video of the press conference. So if a Tuukka Rask trade is to happen, who would be interested and what could a return be?

Recent Goalie Trades

Stepan and Rantta for Deangelo and a 2017 First.

To gauge a possible return for Rask, here are a few recent goalie trades. First up in June 2017 the Arizona Coyotes acquired Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan from the New York Rangers for Anthony Deangelo and a 2017 first-round pick. Deangelo was the 19th pick in the 2014 draft. The 2016-17 season was his rookie year, and in 25 AHL games he had a 3-13-16 stat line. He was called up to the NHL, and in 39 games had a 5-9-14 stat line. Both impressive totals for a rookie. The 2017 first-round pick was the 7th pick in the draft, so a pretty impressive haul for the Rangers.

Arizona's Derek Stepan has scored 50 or more points in five of the last six seasons. The one season he didn't was the 12-13 lockout year where he scored 44 points in just 48 games. As for Raanta, he was one of the best backup goalies in the league who clearly had starter potential. During the 16-17 season, Raanta played in 30 games, going 16-8-2 with 2.26 goals against and a .922 save percentage. In 15-16 he played in 25 games going 11-6-2 with 2.24 goals against and a .919 save percentage. While Arizona has a perennial 50-60 point player in Stepan, Raanta only had one of those two seasons. While both were impressive performances, giving up a top prospect or the 7th pick is a lot for a goalie with such a small sample size.

Frederick Andersen for Bernier and Picks

Next, up in June 2016, the Ducks traded Frederik Andersen to the Leafs for Jonathan Bernier, a 2016 1st round pick and a 2017 2nd round pick. Andersen was part of one of the best young goalie duos in the league. Unfortunately, he was in need of a new contact and the Ducks chose to go with Gibson as the future franchise goalie. During the 15-16 season, Andersen played in 43 games, going 22-9-7 with 2.30 goals against and a .919 save percentage. In 14-15 he played in 54 games going 35-12-5 with 2.38 goals against and a .914 save percentage. Finally, in 13-14 Andersen played only 28 games going 20-5-0 with 2.29 goals against and a .923 save percentage. Those are some impressive numbers, especially considering they were Freddy’s first three NHL seasons.

The Leafs sent back the 30th pick in the 2016 draft, which would become the 50th pick in the 2017 draft, Jonathan Bernier. Bernier was a former first-round pick of the L.A. Kings in 2006. Unfortunately, the Leafs were heading in the wrong direction when they traded for him. In his first year in 13-14, he played 55 games, going 26-19-7 with 2.70 goals against and a .922 save percentage. In 14-15 Bernier played 58 games going 21-28-7 with 2.87 goals against and a .912 save percentage. His third and worst year saw him play only 38 games, going 12-21-3 with 2.88 goals against and a .908 save percentage. With Andersen in need of a new deal, his value took a bit of a hit. However, a first and second-round pick plus Bernier is still quite the return for the young Andersen.

Martin Jones for Sean Kuraly and a 2016 first

In the 2015 draft, the Bruins acquired Martin Jones from the Kings in a separate deal. They then flipped him to the Sharks for a first-round pick in 2016 and former fifth-round pick Sean Kuraly. In 2015 the Sharks had the 9th overall pick and there was a strong case for them to blow up their aging core. In the 2014-15 season, Jones played just 15 games, going 4-5-2 with 2.24 goals against and a .906 save percentage. The season before 2013-14 Jones played in 19 games and went 12-6-0 with 1.81 goals against and a .934 save percentage.

Still a relatively unproven but promising potential starter, Jones has only played 34 games. Getting a potential lottery pick next season was a great deal for the Bruins. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way as the Sharks made a run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final that year. As a result, the pick in the 2016 draft was 29th overall. Still, getting a first-round pick for a goalie with less than half a season of experience is a great deal. Let's also not forget that Kuraly turned out to be a pretty good depth player.

Cory Schneider for the 9th overall pick

The final trade we are going to see is between the Vancouver Canucks and the New Jersey Devils. Vancouver sent goalie Cory Schneider to New Jersey for the 9th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Schneider was an impressive backup, even challenging Luongo for the starting job. In the 2012-13 season, he played in 30 games, going 17-9-4 with 2.11 goals against and a .927 save percentage. During the 2011-12 season, Schneider played 33 games going 20-8-1 with a 1.96 goals against and a .937 save percentage. Finally in the 2010-11 season in 22 games Schneider went 16-4-2 with 2.23 goals against and a .929 save percentage.

Schneider was easily the top backup goalie in the league. However, with Luongo playing in front of him, Vancouver opted to trade him in the 2013 draft. New Jersey, in need of their next franchise goalie, sent the 9th pick to Vancouver in the deal. At the time, the deal was considered a steal for New Jersey. It helped Vancouver that the pick ended up being Bo Horvat. Hopefully, all these previous trades give you an idea of what a potential return for Rask could be.

Potential Trades

Before we jump right into the Tuukka Rask trade talks, let's look at his numbers. Rask has a 26-8-6 record this season in 41 games with 2.12 goals against and a .929 save percentage. In the 2018-19 season, Rask played in 46 games going 27-13-5 with 2.48 goals against and a .912 save percentage. The 2017-18 season saw Rask play 54 games with a record of 34-14-5 2.36 goals against and a .917 save percentage. Finally, in the 2016-17 season, Tuukka played 65 games going 37-20-5 with 2.23 goals against and a .915 save percentage. For his career, Rask has played in 536 games with an impressive 291-158-64 record with 2.26 goals against and a .922 save percentage. Now 33 and with a year left on his contract carrying a seven million dollar cap hit, Rask still has plenty left in the tank. With that, let's look at some possible trades.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins enter this offseason with two young potential starters, both as RFAs. While Matt Murray has held the starting job, he lost that job this season to Tristan Jarry. If Pittsburgh sees Jarry as the cheaper and better option moving forward, Murray will end up on the trade block. Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2016 Murray hasn't been exactly what the Penguins expected as a starter. In his three seasons, his best goals against him were in 2018-19 at 2.69 as well as his best save percentage at .919. While Jarry has been impressive this season, going 20-12-1 with 2.43 goals against and a .921 save percentage, he's still unproven as a starter.

This is where the trade comes in. The Penguins would trade Matt Murray, the 15th overall pick in this year's draft, to the Bruins. The Bruins would send back Tuukka Rask and prospects like Jacob Zboril, who is also an RFA. Rask and Jarry will form an impressive goalie tandem, splitting starts while Jarry adjusts to the increased workload. You could argue the gap between Rask and Murray isn't enough to get back the 15th pick. That's why the Bruins include a prospect like Zboril who still has potential but has fallen on the Bruins depth chart. The Bruins would then have Halak and Murry split starts next season. Murray will serve as the starter until either Vladar or Swayman is ready to fill the role. A three-year deal worth five million per should keep Murray in Boston until then.

Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames have been searching for a franchise goalie for some time now. While David Rittich and Cam Talbot did get themselves into the playoffs, neither is a franchise goalie. Rittich played in 48 games, going 24-17-6 with 2.97 goals against and a .907 save percentage. As for Talbot, he has played in 26 games with a record of 12-10-1 and goals against of 2.61 with a .919 save percentage. Talbot is a pending UFA, while Rittich still has a year remaining on his deal at a cost of up to 2.75 million.

The Bruins would trade Tuukka Rask to the Flames for Rittich and their first-round pick which is 19th overall. The Flames would get a year of Rask to see if he is the difference maker they need. Rask has already put retirement rumors to bed this season, and a successful run in Calgary could easily convince him to sign a short-term deal. The Flames have Tyler Parsons, a former 2016 second-round pick, as their goalie of the future. Once Rask decides to retire, he should be ready to step in. The Bruins will save 4.25 million dollars next season and should be able to sign Rittich to a pretty cheap deal again before Vladar and Swayman are ready to become full-time starters.

Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild have had one of the better starting goalies of the last five years in Devin Dubnyk. Unfortunately, Dubnyk has struggled this season in 30 games, going 12-15-2 with 3.35 goals against and a .890 save percentage. Alex Stalock stepped in and had the Wild in playoff contention. In 38 games Stalock went 20-11-4 with 2.67 goals against and a .910 save percentage. The Wild could see Rask as the missing piece on a team with a good mix of youth and veteran leadership. With Kaapo Kahkonen their goalie of the future still just 24 bringing Rask allows him to ease into the role of full-time starter in the next few years.

So in this trade, Tuukka Rask would go to the Wild, while Devin Dubnyk and the 9th pick would go to Boston. Similar to other trades, Rask would re-sign on a short-term deal and be the starter until their goalie of the future is ready. With Stalock under contract for the next two seasons, he and Rask would form a formidable goalie tandem. The Bruins would save 2.67 million in salary next season, with Dubnyk under contract at 4.33 million dollars. With a solid defensive team around him, he could return to the form that made him one of the top goalies over the previous five seasons. The Bruins also get the 9th overall pick because there's no guarantee Dubnyk will return to form at 34 years old. In a loaded draft, that pick could be an impact player for years to come.

Carolina Hurricanes

The final trade partner is the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina was rumored to be in the market for a goalie at the deadline. However, injuries on defense prevented them from making a move to address their biggest weakness. With James Reimer and Petr Mrazek both under contract next season, a move could still be a top priority. In 40 games this season, Mrazek went 21-16-2 with 2.69 goals against and a .905 save percentage. Reimer in 25 games went 14-6-2 with 2.66 goals against and a .914 save percentage. Carolina also has Alex Nedeljkovic a 2014 second-round pick coming up from the system, as their goalie of the future.

In this trade, Tuukka Rask would go to Carolina with Reimer and the 13th pick coming to Boston. Carolina gets a year of Rask and Mrazek and with their already strong team, it could make some playoff noise next year. Rask acts as the place holder until Nedeljkovic is ready to take over down the line. With one year left at 3.4 million, the Bruins would save 3.6 million in salary next season. While Reimer has never had a solid defensive team in front of him outside of this year, he's been a capable starter. Similar to Carolina, Halak and Reimer would form a solid goalie tandem and Reimer would take a short-term deal to help Vladar and Swayman adjust to the NHL. The 13th pick could also provide a good player for years to come.

Final Thoughts

So to wrap it up, the Penguins would trade Matt Murray and the 15th pick for Rask and Zboril. The Calgary Flames would trade David Rittich and the 19th pick for Rask. Minnesota would trade Devin Dubnyk and the 9th pick for Rask. Finally, the Hurricanes trade James Reimer and the 13th pick for Rask. While it's hard to get fair value for a goalie like Rask, the cap savings might be most valuable. With a flat cap for the next few years, the Bruins need to find ways to save money. The Tuukka Rask trade would certainly accomplish that. Feel free to comment on your Rask trade ideas or what you think of these deals. Until next time stay safe and healthy out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!

Featured image courtesy of Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports.

Written by Michael Rudd

A life long Boston sports fan who isn’t afraid to admit that at the age of 27 I have been spoiled by the last 20 years of domination by all of our teams.

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