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Friday, June 29, 2012
Chiarelli: Rask out to show he's a No. 1

By James Murphy

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said his new No. 1 goalie has something to prove, which was the driving force behind the team and Tuukka Rask settling on a one-year, $3.5 million contract instead of a long-term deal.

"I think -- and you'd have to ask Tuukka -- he wants to prove that he's the No. 1 goalie for the Bruins for a long time," said Chiarelli in confirming the one-year deal. "This was the easiest way to set the stage for that. Tuukka's been a really good goalie for us, but he hasn't been the No.1 goalie (except for one year) and the stage is set for him and we'll see where it takes us."

Rask was set to become a restricted free agent on Sunday. The sides settling on a deal now prevents other teams from being able to sign him to an offer sheet. The 25-year-old Rask will once again be a restricted free agent after the season, meaning this one-year deal could either result in a big multi-year contract from the Bruins, or, if he falls on his face, a much lower offer or no offer at all.

Chiarelli said that the Bruins approached Rask about a multi-year extension, but the goalie insisted on the one-year contract.

"Again, it's a testament to Tuukka that he's willing to do it under the one-year contract," Chiarelli said Friday. "He's a calm, poised goaltender -- you see a little bit of the fiery temper here and there and I don't mind that -- but generally speaking he's a goalie who is composed. He's technically very good and athletic at the same time. I don't have any reason to think that he's not going to emerge as the No. 1 for years to come. We tried early on in the year to extend him out and he took the same stance, which I respect."

With two-time Vezina-winner Tim Thomas sitting the season out, Rask figures to be the Bruins' No. 1 goalie. Rask hasn't been the team's primary backstop since the 2009-10 season, when he allowed an NHL-best 1.97 goals per game.

Chiarelli, who said he never got the sense teams would have come after Rask had he hit restricted free agency, acknowledged he was taking a risk here. With the collective bargaining expiring, there is at least a slim chance the new CBA will include provisions that would make Rask an unrestricted free agent after this season instead of an RFA.

"I saw some reports about that and I think that's a risk that both sides were willing to take," Chiarelli said. "In an ideal world, this is a contract that we look to extend come January. If he is a UFA come next year, we'll just have to deal with it proactively but that really didn't come into play."