First off, apologies for the long hiatus – I’ve been swamped with school and internship responsibilities; but I’m sure you don’t really care. Anyways, moving on…
As good as Tim Thomas is, he is not getting any younger.
Even though Thomas was signed to a 4-year extension, don’t think it means that he will be shouldering the goaltending duties alone. Look for 22 year-old Tuuka Rask to spell Thomas to the tune for 25-30 games this year. In fact, I would say that Boston needs Rask now more than ever. Allowing Rask to have see significant game action during a time when Boston is playing high quality hockey takes a lot of pressure off of the young goaltender; it’s not as if the success or failure of the team rests with him as it has with Thomas ever since he pulled on the Spoked-B.
Tuuka Rask was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005 and was traded to Boston in 2006 for, ahem, Andrew Raycroft (another Brian Burke blunder I have been graciously informed that former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. was responsible for this trade.) Rask has only played five NHL games (3-1-1) and I’d say that Boston came out the victor in that deal.
Rask has spent the past two seasons with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence where he did a great job of adjusting to the North American style of play which is certainly more physical, with more traffic in front of the net. Rask surprised the coaching staff during last year’s training camp when he seriously challenged Manny Fernandez for the back-up job. In my opinion, he was ready last year. However, Boston’s brass had not expected him to progress so quickly so they signed Fernandez and felt compelled to play him.
In all likelihood, Thomas will not see more than 60 regular season games over the duration of his contract. This leaves the door open for Rask to show that he truly belongs at the NHL level.
Rask is yet unproven; however from seeing his play thus-far (including a 1-0 shutout victory vs. the Rangers last season), he looks to provide Boston with quality goaltending for the foreseeable future.