Jeremy Lauzon got some good news at the end of a nerve-wracking week.
The rookie defenseman, who earned his first NHL suspension Sunday, celebrated his second NHL contract Friday.
The Bruins and the 22-year-old struck a two-year, $1.7 million extension, keeping him from reaching restricted free agency July 1. His new deal begins that day and will cost $850,000 against Boston’s salary cap.
Lauzon, the Val d’Or, Quebec-raised son of two doctors, has brought a heavy, defense-oriented style since his first call-up last October. The 6-foot-1-inch, 205-pound defenseman has 23 games on his resume, with one goal in each of the last two seasons.
With fellow rookie Connor Clifton injured, Lauzon was playing in his sixth consecutive game last Saturday against Arizona. His streak was interrupted with 20 seconds left in the first period, when he lost control while throwing a check along the boards and hit Coyotes forward Derek Stepan in the head, drawing a match penalty and automatic ejection. During a phone call the next day, the Department of Player Safety docked him two games.
Speaking before his new contract was announced, Lauzon said he was a “little bit nervous” during his first disciplinary hearing, “but everything was fine.”
Lauzon, the 52nd pick in the 2015 draft, is eligible to return Saturday against Detroit. He doesn’t think he will be rusty.
“I don’t think sitting two games is going to bother me,” said Lauzon, who practiced with AHL Providence while suspended. “It showed after the break — I had four days off and I felt really good.”
He also wasn’t concerned about the pending return of Clifton, nearing a return after some six weeks with an upper-body injury. He will not play Saturday — either Lauzon or John Moore will be Matt Grzelcyk’s partner against the Red Wings — but could be available after that.
“He’ll have to earn it,” coach Bruce Cassidy said of Clifton, who will miss his 19th straight game Saturday. “It’s a tough decision but a good problem to have.”
Clifton last played Dec. 29, when he collided with Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons and left the game. The Bruins, at the 23-man roster limit, would have to make a move to activate the defenseman from injured reserve.
Rask gets next start
Tuukka Rask will start for Boston on Saturday, with the starter of Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. puck drop in Manhattan TBD. Cassidy said Jaroslav Halak told him he’s “feeling much better” after an upper-body issue kept him out of last Sunday’s scheduled start. He has not been limited at practice this week. “Hopefully it’s a one-off,” Cassidy said . . . According to PuckPedia, Lauzon will earn $700,000 in salary with a $100,000 signing bonus next season. His salary jumps to $900,000 in 2021-22, after which season he will be an unrestricted free agent. His agent Pat Brisson of CAA Sports represents numerous stars including John Tavares, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, and Nathan Mackinnon. Lauzon, his only Bruins client, was general manager Don Sweeney’s sixth pick that year. He memorably spent first-round picks on Jakub Zboril (13th), Jake DeBrusk (14th), and Zach Senyshyn (15th), and took Brandon Carlo (37th) and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (45th) before plucking Lauzon out of the QMJHL. DeBrusk, the second-line left wing, and shutdown defenseman Carlo are the only ones to make significant NHL impacts to date.
Matt Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.