Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, his hands greasy from working under the hood, said goaltending is not a reason for the flashing yellow warning light on the dash.
Sweeney said in a Wednesday Zoom conference he is not concerned about Tuukka Rask, and that the starting netminder’s leaves of absence in recent seasons and surrounding chatter about retirement were isolated incidents rather than a worrisome trend.
“I have zero reservations about where Tuukka will be, both on and off the ice for us,” Sweeney said.
Rask left the team on Aug. 15, before Game 3 of the first-round series against Carolina, saying in a statement he needed to be with his family. Bruins president Cam Neely later said Rask left to address an emergency at home. Coach Bruce Cassidy acknowledged Rask’s departure put the Bruins in an uncomfortable spot.
Sweeney said he hasn’t spoken with Rask since he left the bubble, but he understands the netminder and his family are doing well.
For now, the Bruins intend to split Rask and Jaroslav Halak in 2020-21. Both goalies have a year remaining on their contracts, with cap hits of $7 million and $2.25 million, respectively.
‘“I have zero reservations about where Tuukka will be, both on and off the ice for us."’
Bruins GM Don Sweeney
“I think we’re in a really good spot with our goaltending,” Sweeney said. “We’ll address needs as we see them going forward.”
While Sweeney could explore Rask’s trade value, the goaltender’s age (33), contract, and latest departure make it unlikely he would receive a bonanza in return. At age 35, Halak’s days as a No. 1 are behind him. The prospects who will vie for the net in Providence — Dan Vladar, Jeremy Swayman, and Kyle Keyser — are in great need of AHL seasoning.
For now, it’s Rask or bust.
“If you look at Tuukka’s actual play, he was a Vezina finalist this year,” Sweeney said. “To me, that pretty much dictates everything.”