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Rask Atop NHL Pay Chart After $56-Million Extension

Rask Atop NHL Pay Chart After $56-Million Extension

Boston's Tuuka Rask is now tied with Pekka Rinne for the NHL's highest salary cap figure at $7-million per season. (InGoal Photo by Scott Slingsby)

Boston’s Tuuka Rask is now tied with Pekka Rinne for the NHL’s highest salary cap figure at $7-million per season. (InGoal Photo by Scott Slingsby)

Tuukka Rask has been one of the NHL’s best goaltenders over the past three season with a .927 save percentage.

Starting next season he’ll be paid like it.

Fresh off backstopping the Boston Bruins to within two games of the Stanley Cup, and a safe bet for the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP had they finished off the Chicago Blackhawks, Rask signed an eight-year, $56-million contract extension on Wednesday.

Rask’s new $7-million salary cap hit puts him atop the League for next season, tied with Nashville Predators star Pekka Rinne for the top average salary, and just ahead New York Rangers standout Henrik Lundqvist’s $6.875-million cap hit, according to the figures at CapGeek.com (chart with the top-15 salaries and cap hits below).

A restricted free agent last summer, Rask gambled on a one-year, $3.5-million contract going into first full season as the Bruins’ unquestioned No.1, hoping that a chance to prove himself would pay off this summer. Did it ever.

Rask has a nice blend of puck control blocking and a reactive athletic game when needed. (InGoal photo by Scott Slingsby)

Rask has a nice blend of puck control blocking and a reactive athletic game when needed. (InGoal photo by Scott Slingsby)

The athletic 26-year-old Finn went 19-10-5 in the lockout-shortened season, posting a 2.00 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and five shutouts in 36 games during the regular season before improving on those numbers with a 1.88 goals against, .940 save percentage, and three shutouts during the Bruins run to the Cup Final.

While there are certain to be arguments about whether Rask is worth the money, it’s hard to argue against it. Armed with elite skills that include being a great pure skater and excellent hands, and an ideal 6-foot-3 frame, Rask paid his dues behind – and learned from – two-time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas before taking advantage of this year’s opportunity. While Rask has made YouTube highlight clips for his stick-smashing rants in the past, it’s worth noting almost all have come after a game (often a shootout loss), and Rask rarely appears to lose his cool when it matters most. In fact, he’s shown a great ability to shrug off bad games and recover quickly.

“You always try to be good but then you are trying to get your average game level as high as you can,” Rask told reporters in Boston on locker room clean up day. “That the gap between a good game and a bad game wouldn’t be so big. I think I managed to do that this year, and it motivates me for the next year to keep that level and keep getting better.”

Rask is quick laterally, whether on his skates – and he uses more shuffles move laterally than a lot of North American goalies, which allows him to go back the other way faster than goalies who rely more on t-pushes – or on his knees, allowing him to play slightly more aggressive atop his crease. He has a great blend of a tight blocking butterfly that swallows rebounds when needed; quick, reactive hands to snag and steer pucks with his glove and blocker, and control low rebounds with his stick; and the ability to throw technique out and scramble when needed.

Rask knows when to throw technique out the window. (InGoal photo by Scott Slingsby)

Rask knows when to throw technique out the window. (InGoal photo by Scott Slingsby)

(Look for a complete illustrated breakdown of Rask’s game in the next edition of InGoal Magazine)

In short, Rask has become everything expected when the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted him 21st overall at the 2005 NHL Draft.

Originally acquired from Toronto in exchange for goaltender Andrew Raycroft on June 24, 2006 – the Leafs also had Justin Pogge in the system and coming off a World Junior Championship gold medal with Canada and didn’t think they needed both goalies – Rask has a 66-45-16 record, 16 shutouts, a 2.15 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in 138 career NHL games. His 2.15 goals against is the lowest for any goalie to play 135 games before the age of 26, surpassing Martin Brodeur (2.16) and Lundqvist (2.27). In 35 career playoff games, Rask is 21-14 with a matching 2.15 goals against and .930 save percentage.

According to CapGeek.com, Rask’s new contract contains a no-movement clause through 2016-17, and a no-trade clause from 2017 to 2019, with Rask submitting a 15-team trade list. As you’ll see from the chart below, Rask may be tied with Rinne atop the cap hit list, but Rask’s actual salary for next season is just $6-million, which ranks seventh behind Rinne and Quick at $7-million, Roberto Luongo ($6.714M), Cam Ward ($6.6M), Ryan Miller ($6.25M) and fellow Finn Kari Lehtonen ($6.25M).

Rask’s salary rises to $7.5-million next season and stays there for four seasons. Whether it will be the NHL’s top salary next year depends on Lundqvist, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and has reportedly already begun discussions with the New York Rangers on what should be the NHL’s biggest contract for a goaltender.

Top-15 Goalie Salary Cap Hits in 2013-14:

Name Age Team Salary Cap Hit
Pekka Rinne30NAS $7,000,000 $7,000,000
Tuukka Rask 26BOS $6,000,000 $7,000,000
Henrik Lundqvist 31NYR $5,125,000$6,875,000
Carey Price 25 MTL $5,750,000 $6,500,000
Cam Ward29CAR $6,600,000 $6,300,000
Ryan Miller32BUF $6,250,000$6,250,000
Kari Lehtonen 29DAL $6,250,000 $5,900,000
Miikka Kiprusoff36CGY$1,500,000$5,833,333
Jonathan Quick27 LAK$7,000,000$5,800,000
Mike Smith31PHX$4,000,000 $5,666,667
Sergei Bobrovsky24CLB $5,000,000$5,625,000
Roberto Luongo 34 VAN$6,714,000$5,333,333
Jimmy Howard 29DET$5,500,000 $5,291,667
Marc-Andre Fleury28PIT $5,750,000$5,000,000
Martin Brodeur41NJD$5,000,000 $4,500,000

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.

1 Comment

  1. WolfieGoalie2

    Boy is Lundquist under paid. Wake up Rangers!