In an offseason marred by a flat salary cap and featuring scores of uncertainty as it pertains to the upcoming 2020-21 campaign, it appears as though just about everything is on the table for Don Sweeney and the Bruins.
With a little over $16 million in cap room, the Bruins are in a better position than most clubs on the eve of free agency, with multiple franchises shearing away as much salary as they can by way of trades or withholding qualifying offers on free agents. With that extra capital, Boston has the resources to put its roster over the top in what could be one of the final chances for this current core to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.
Given Boston's fiscal flexibility and the numerous areas of the roster in line for an upgrade, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Bruins have been linked to just about every legitimate rumor fluttering out on the internet — whether that be a swap involving Oliver Ekman-Larsson or perhaps serving as free-agent suitors for the likes of Alex Pietrangelo or Taylor Hall.
And while most of the key cogs on Boston's roster (Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, etc.) won't be on the move this fall, trade whispers involving Tuukka Rask have gained traction over the last couple of weeks — with Boston potentially freeing up additional cap room ($7 million) if they part ways with their franchise netminder.
With Rask's no-movement clause set to expire on Friday, the 33-year-old goalie won't exactly have a say if Boston opted to deal him, but Rask made his thoughts on the matter very clear in a conversation with The Boston Herald's Steve Conroy on Thursday.
"I don’t want to play for anybody else but the Bruins. ...I’ve been here for a long time and the organization’s been so great for me," Rask told Conroy. "We’ve built our home in Boston and we call this home. So, yeah, I don’t want to play for anybody else. I think where my head’s at is focusing on next year and then hopefully a couple of more years after that and then pass the torch for the next guy after that. I want to help the organization as much as I can.”
While Rask's contract situation (one year remaining on his eight-year deal) might have fueled some of this offseason speculation, most of it seemed to be generated by Rask's decision to leave the Toronto bubble during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Rask set the record straight, noting that a medical emergency prompted his sudden exit.
“I got a phone call from my wife and my daughter was in a state that she needed medical attention and she wasn’t doing well. At that point, I had no choice but to go home. It’s as simple as that,” Rask said. "If you get a phone call wherever you are, like I did, it’s a pretty easy decision. What bothered me a little bit was people thinking that I just left because I didn’t like it there. I’m not going to lie to to you, (the bubble) was awful. But if I didn’t have a reason to leave, I wouldn’t have left, obviously. There’s that. But my daughter’s fine now, the family's good, and it made me feel good."
Rask added: "I know that I made the right decision and I know my family is well right now, and that’s all that matters. ... I’d rather get the chirps or whatnot, but my family knows I made the right decision and that’s all the matters to me.”
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