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Tuukka Rask supportive of, but not surprised by Tim Thomas 08.02.12 at 4:42 pm ET
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Speaking publicly for the first time this summer, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute that he wasn’t overly surprised when he heard this summer that fellow goalie Tim Thomas was taking a year off from hockey.

“Well I was and I wasn’t,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting him to do that obviously, but I really appreciate what he’s done and I appreciate his decision to be with his family and take some time off from hockey. It really didn’t shock me that much, but I’m more upset to see him leave because we had a really good connection and friendship going on. I’m sure he’s happy now where he is.”

Added Rask: “I mean, everybody knew he was a little tired because he played so much the last two years, but it didn’t seem like he was exhausted mentally.”

Thomas, who was a two-time Vezina winner and a the Conn Smythe winner in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley-Cup winning season, became somewhat of a controversial figure for being more outspoken politically over the last calendar year. Most recently, Thomas sided with Chick fil-A in its stand against gay marriage. Asked what he though Thomas’ legacy in Boston should be given the on-ice success and off-ice controversy, Rask said he couldn’t answer because he was biased towards his former teammate.

“To me, I look at it a little differently because he’s a friend of mine, so I don’t really care what he says on the Facebook or whatever because I don’t read that stuff,” Rask said. “He’s been good to me, and we’ve been good friends and usually don’t talk about that stuff, what he posts. All I know is he’s been a good teammate to me and a good friend.”

Read More: Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask,
Claude Julien addresses the Tim Thomas situation 07.24.12 at 3:08 pm ET
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In an offseason that’s seen minimal roster turnover, the Bruins’ biggest change of the summer was the subtraction of Tim Thomas, who will sit out the next season to focus on fiends, family and faith.

Speaking at the press conference to announce his contract extension, Claude Julien talked about what the Bruins will be like without the two-time Vezina-winner and said he thinks the Bruins can handle it.

“We lost a guy by the name of Marc Savard who led our team in scoring every year and we were able to adapt,” Julien said. “I see that as a same kind of a challenge. There’€™s no doubt, nobody’€™s going to deny what Tim’€™s done here for our hockey club over the years but we’€™ve mentioned that Tuukka [Rask] is a very capable goaltender. He’€™s got his opportunity to showcase that this year and I think when I saw [Anton] Khudobin play, whether it was training camp or whether it was when he was with us that game in Ottawa, practice, you can see a goaltender who has not only improved but has matured.

“I honestly have a lot of confidence in our goaltending and, obviously, we drafted, we’€™ve signed a few goaltenders as well. I think our depth is there. I don’€™t really see that as an issue. And that’€™s because I have the confidence in what I have in front of me right now.”

The most games Rask, who will become the No. 1 goaltender, has started in his career is 39 back in 2009-10. It will be interesting to see how he handles being a true No. 1 with a traditional backup in Khudobin after years of splitting time with Thomas. Rask’s certainly got a lot to play for, as he’s on a one-year deal that can land him a huge payday should he pick up where Thomas left off.

Read More: Anton Khudobin, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask,
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.’€

Read More: Boston Bruins, Peter Chiarelli, Tuukka Rask,
Bruins sign Alexander Khokhlachev as he prepares for KHL at 12:40 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli shed light on 2011 second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev‘s situation Friday, confirming that the Russian forward will play in the KHL next season but noting that the Bruins have agreed with him on an entry level deal, allowing them to retain his rights. The deal will not be registered with the league until Sunday.

Khokhlachev, 18, will play one season in the KHL for Moscow Spartak (where his father is the general manager) before returning to North America to turn pro in the 2013-14 season.

“The plan is now for him to play in Russia,” Chiarelli said. “He’ll attend our camp, and then he’ll go back for the Russian team — his father is the [general] manager there. After one year, he’s under our [control]. He wants to be an NHL player, and he’s making strides towards that.”

Khokhlachev’s season with the Windsor Spitfires [OHL] was cut short by a lacerated kidney last season, an injury from which he still hasn’t fully recovered. He’s taking part in this week’s development camp, but is not taking contact.

The 5-foot-10 forward had 34 goals in 67 games in his draft year before adding 25 more in 56 games this past season. There may be more room for growth against higher competition in the KHL, something “Koko,” as he is called, looks forward to.

“I will be playing with men,” Khokhlachev said. “It’s not junior hockey. It’s a lot of guys who have played in the NHL before, so it’s a really good league, the second[-best] league in the world. ‘€¦ In OHL, I play against [younger] guys, and in [the KHL] I’ll play against men.”

Said Chiarelli: “If you have an hour, I could go through all the positives and negatives of both,” Chiarelli said. “What we decided with Koko was that it’s a unique set of circumstances with his dad being the manager there and saying, ‘Look, it’s one year and then back to North America.’ He felt it was right for him, and at the end of the day we went along with him on this. We’re going to support him on it.”

Khokhlachev’s English was very limited when he was first drafted by the B’s last summer, but he seems to have a much better handle on the language after another year of lessons. He said Friday that he’ll be able to continue practicing his English in Russia, as his KHL team will have an American goaltender and a Canadian defenseman.

Read More: Alexander Khokhlachev, Tuukka Rask,
Reaction to the Tuukka Rask deal 06.28.12 at 4:36 pm ET
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With the Bruins and Tuukka Rask reportedly agreeing in principle to a one-year, $3.5 million deal, several points can be drawn. Here’s some quick analysis of the signing.

– Given that Rask has never started the majority of the regular-season games in any season in his NHL career, this deal is a smart one for the B’s. It allows Rask, who was limited to just 22 starts last season due to being Tim Thomas‘ backup and later being injured, to prove to the Bruins that he’s an elite starting goaltender before they pay him as such.

The most starts Rask has had in a single season was 39 back in the 2009-10 season, when he led the NHL with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He had 27 starts in the 2010-11 season before last season’s 22.

– Rask, who would have been a restricted free agent this Sunday (the first day of free agency), will be a restricted free agent again at the end of this deal. A player needs to either be 27 years of age or to have played seven seasons in the league in order to be an unrestricted free agent, and the now-25-year-old Rask will be neither next July 1. That means that there’s no possibility that Rask can put together a mammoth season and bolt next summer without the Bruins getting anything return. If Rask ends up getting big money out of this move, it will come from the Bruins unless they trade him or see him signed away via an offer sheet. The latter scenario would be as rare as it gets, so don’t count on him going anywhere.

Malcolm Subban doesn’t have anything to do with this. The 18-year-old OHL goaltender and 2012 24th overall pick is still years and years away from being an NHL goaltender, so there’s no chance that the B’s gave Rask one year with the idea of replacing him with Subban in 2013.

– While the one-year deal isn’t a major shock for reasons listed above, the $3.5 million total could be a bargain for the Bruins. It’s a big raise for Rask, who carried a $1.25 million cap hit over the course of his recently expired two-year, $2.5 million deal, but the guess here was that Rask’s next deal would end up getting a deal somewhere around $4 million range. If he puts together a brilliant season for the B’s, he could end up getting paid much more than that each year in his next deal. With Thomas’ deal expired by then (if they don’t trade him), the B’s will have that space against the cap to commit to Rask.

– Speaking of next deals, Peter Chiarelli is going to have a lot of work to do over the course of the next year. Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference and Anton Khudobin will be unrestricted free agents next summer, while Rask, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Jordan Caron will all be restricted.

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Bruins reportedly give Tuukka Rask one-year deal at 4:14 pm ET
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According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie (via twitter), the Bruins and goaltender Tuukka Rask have agreed to terms on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. Rask was set to become a restricted free agent on Sunday, the opening of free agency.

Last season, Rask was limited to 22 starts due to an abdomen/groin injury suffered in March. He posted an 11-8-3 record with a 2.05 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. He is expected to be the team’s No. 1 goalie next season, with Anton Khudobin serving as the backup.

In order to be an unrestricted free agent, a player must be either 27 years of age or have played seven years in the league. Rask, 25, will not have met either of those benchmarks, so he will be a restricted free agent again following the coming season.

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Shawn Thornton talks Tuukka Rask, Malcolm Subban and the Merlot Line 06.26.12 at 6:14 pm ET
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Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton was at Fenway Tuesday to take in a Red Sox game, and he took a few minutes to talk to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Here are a few highlights of the conversation:

On Tuukka Rask being the No. 1 goalie this coming season:

“I’ve been texting with him. He’s back in Finland, so I haven’t had a full conversation with him, but I’ve texted back and forth with him. Not about anything hockey-wise, just life stuff.

“It’s June, so I’m not too worried about it right now. I have all the confidence in the world in Tuukka. His numbers have proven that he can start in this league. All his teammates love him. He’s a great guy. They still have to re-sign him, but I’m very confident with him between the pipes.”

On the team giving three-year deals to line mates Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille:

“I’m ecstatic. I’ve loved playing with those guys. We kind of know where each other are on the ice now. We don’t have to talk, we’ve been with each other for so long now that we can kind of just read off each other. That should help us in years to come.”

On the chemistry between fourth-liners:

“I’ve been on it longer, I guess. I get along with them very well as friends, first and foremost, and obviously as teammates. I’m happy to have them back.”

On having a Subban (Malcolm Subban) in the organization:

“I don’t follow junior hockey, so I didn’t even know [P.K. Subban] had a brother playing, to tell you the truth. If he was the best player available and he’s going to make our team better in the future, then I mean Peter’s a pretty smart man and I’m sure they made the right choice.”

Rob Bradford contributed [a.k.a. did all the legwork] to this report.

Read More: Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Malcolm Subban, P.K. Subban
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