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Peter Chiarelli: Tuukka Rask ‘wants to prove to me that he is a No. 1 goalie’

06.29.12 at 1:19 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Speaking between sessions at Friday’s development camp, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed the team’s agreement in principle with goaltender Tuukka Rask on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. For bookkeeping purposes, the team will not register the deal until Sunday, the first day of free agency. Rask would have become a restricted free agent Sunday, and he will be one at the end of his upcoming deal.

While Rask only agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $3.5 million, he certainly plans to be in Boston past next season. According to the general manager, Rask agreed to the one-year deal so he could prove that he is worth a long-term contract.

‘€œHe wants to prove that he is the No. 1 goalie for the Bruins for a long time,’€ Chiarelli said. ‘€œThis was the easiest way to set the stage for that. Tuukka has been a really good goalie for us, but for one year he hasn’€™t been the number one goalie. The stage is set for him and we will see where it takes us.’€

The contract, which is less money and less years than that of comparable goalies Ondrej Pavelec (five years, $19.5 million) and Cory Schneider (three years, $12 million), prevents Rask from testing the market as a restricted free agent.

‘€œHe could have went out and tried to do [arbitration], or tested free agency, and he is not,’€ Chiarelli said. ‘€œHe wants to be a member of the Boston Bruins for a long time and I like to hear that. I know you hear that often when you sign guys, but Tuukka throughout since he has been here, he has started here, and he has been patient.

‘€œHe has worked in Providence and he has worked as a backup. He is following the steps. I like that. I like that he wants to prove to me that he is a number one goalie.’€

Rask, who has a .926 save percentage and a 2.20 goals against average in 102 games with the Bruins, spent the past two seasons backing up Tim Thomas. However, with Thomas likely to sit out next season, Rask will be thrust into the starting role, something that Chiarelli thinks he is capable of handling.

‘€œWe saw [good performance from Rask] for a large portion of [2009-10],’€ Chiarelli said. ‘€œHe’s coming back earlier to train. I guess the proof is in the pudding at the end of the day, but $3.5 million isn’t chump change. He’s shown to me that he’s ready to take that next step.’€

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