- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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According to a Bruins source and as reported by Pierre Lebrun of ESPN.com, the Bruins and restricted free-agent goaltender Tuukka Rask agreed in principle to a one-year, $3.5 million contract on Thursday.
With this agreement, which according to the source will be made official on July 1, the Bruins lock up their new starting netminder and avoid any chance that another team could sign Rask to an offer sheet between July 1 and 5. Meanwhile, Rask finally gets his chance to enter training camp as the team's No.1 goalie.
Next, he has to prove he can handle the workload of a starter who may play upwards of 60 games next season. If he succeeds, he will be able to name his price as a restricted free agent again next summer, provided a new collective bargaining agreement doesn't change that status.
Rask did appear in 39 games in 2009-10, going 22-12-5 with a .931 save percentage and 1.97 GAA, but he struggled in the playoffs, going 7-6 with a .912 save percentage and 2.61 GAA, losing his last four starts in the forgettable seven-game-series loss to the Flyers when the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead. This past season he showed signs of the Rask of the 2009-10 regular season, with an 11-8-3 record, .929 save percentage and 2.05 GAA. Now it is time for him to bring his game to the elite level as he enters his prime at age 25.
The Bruins had their chances to deal the Finnish netminder when Tim Thomas was dominating the league and led them to a Stanley Cup, but with lack of goalie depth in the organization and the strong belief that Rask was their future between the pipes, they held on to him. Showtime has come for Rask, and if he delivers, the Bruins will know they have their goalie of the future and will reward him handsomely next summer.