NHL Trade Rumors: Why the Boston Bruins Should Not Trade Tuukka Rask
Throughout the past few weeks, trade rumors have swirled around several players in the NHL. In Boston, the defending Stanley Cup Champions have heard the media throw their backup goaltender's name into multiple potential swaps.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has not made any trades as of yet to meddle with his current roster. Here are five reasons why Boston would be insane to diverge from that path and deal away their young and promising goalie.
Salary Cap Issues
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To some fans, the idea of getting powerful goal-scoring forward Rick Nash is a wondrous thing. It's pretty easy to marvel over the things Boston could do with a truly elite goal-scorer.
Now step back into reality. Have you heard of this thing called a salary cap?
As of today, the Bruins are nearly $4.5 million under the salary cap. If they were to trade away Tuukka Rask—a player whose cap hit is a mere $1.25 million this season, according to CapGeek—they would still need to clear away more than $2 million more to make room for Rick Nash's $7.8 million salary.
There is a possibility that the space could be achieved by reaching a solution on Marc Savard's cap hit, but it would still leave minimal space to re-sign guys like Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand when their contracts demand upgrades. On top of that, they would need to bring in a new goaltender for the future.
Who Is Removed from the Top Six?
Through 26 games, Rick Nash has accounted for eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points overall.
Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand have amassed 24, 20 and 19 points, respectively, heading into Monday night's clash with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron lag just behind at 18 points each, and all of those totals are in fewer games played than Nash.
The other forward that makes up the Bruins' top six—the recently extended David Krejci—missed three games to injury earlier in the season, but has tallied 15 points as a result of his recent resurgence.
If you acquire a forward like Nash, which one of these guys gets demoted to the third line to replace Benoit Pouliot?
When you have a set of six forwards on your top two lines who have combined for 48 goals—an average of eight goals per player—it doesn't seem logical to sacrifice all that much to add a forward who has eight goals on the season.
Injury Insurance Between the Pipes
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Tim Thomas doesn't seem to have missed a beat since putting the Bruins on his back last summer. The 37-year-old goalie has posted more eye-popping numbers to this point in the season, sporting a lethal .936 save percentage and a dangerously low 1.93 goals against average to go with his 12-4-0 record.
Still, Thomas is 37-years-old and is a season-and-a-half removed from significant hip surgery. He isn't a rising star who can be the franchise cornerstone with a long-term contract. He is susceptible to injury at any moment, and quite frankly, the Bruins have had great fortune to keep him as healthy as they have over the past few seasons.
If Boston were to trade Tuukka Rask, they would be one Thomas injury away from throwing themselves back into the goaltender carousel that this organization spent so much time circling for decades before Timmy the Tank arrived.
Whenever Rask has been called upon, he has been stellar. His .924 saves percentage this season—and his .925 career mark in that category—are attributable to his remarkable consistency and his true capability to be a dominant goaltender in the NHL.
If It Isn't Broke...
After Tuukka Rask led the Bruins to a 4-1 win against Toronto over the weekend—their fourth against the Leafs in as many tries this season—Boston leaped all the way to second place in the Eastern Conference. Entering Monday night's matchup with the Pens, the Bruins need to date all the way back to October 29 to find the last time they lost a game in regulation.
Their Stanley Cup Hangover has ended, and they have rattled off a remarkable stretch of success since their abysmal 3-7 start to the season. All four forward lines are contributing, and those lines have been able to stay intact to develop chemistry and consistency among them.
Anchored by their always-strong defense and goaltending and complemented by a newly resurgent offense, the Bruins find themselves atop most power rankings as they near the middle part of the NHL season. Their goal differential—plus-34 entering play on Monday—is an incredible lead over every other team in the league. Needless to say, things are going as well as any Bruins fan could ever imagine in their effort to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.
What is the need to make a single change to this roster?
He's the Franchise Goalie
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It may be the most commonly cited reason to keep Rask in Boston, but it is ultimately the most valid one. Tuukka Rask is the long-term answer for the Bruins organization.
Fans will remember the trade that sent Andrew Raycroft to Toronto in exchange for Tuukka Rask as the steal of the decade for the Bruins. Considering the previously mentioned goaltending carousel that has characterized the past few decades at the Garden, it is vital to build around a guy like Rask who has shown the ability and consistency to shoulder the load as the top dog in Boston.
Will he demand a new contract next season? Sure. But Tim Thomas is also in the final year of his contract, and his magical run cannot last forever. The timelines match up perfectly for the Bruins, and after their run this season—assuming Thomas holds the starting job for that long—it will be time to transition themselves into a new era.
That new era will see Tuukka Rask build his own legacy in the black and gold. That era will—at least in the hopes of Bruins fans, players, and ownership—allow many more photos like this one to be snapped of the Finnish goaltending star.
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