In last week’s Trade Bait column, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that many around the NHL “are wondering whether GM Don Sweeney is quietly checking the value of goaltender Tuukka Rask.”
Apparently we don’t have to wonder any more. In this week’s Trade Bait column that was posted on Thursday, Seravalli, citing multiple sources, reports that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney “has initiated conversations with teams about Rask’s market value over the last number of weeks.”
That’s a fairly significant update. Everything Sweeney and others in the Bruins organization have said publicly has indicated that they fully intended to go into next season with Rask as their No. 1 goalie.
This is the clearest indication yet that the Bruins are at least considering the possibility of trading Rask and going in a different direction at the goalie position.
The next question, of course, is what kind of response Sweeney has gotten if he has gauged Rask’s value. There are a lot of goalies who are going to be on the move this offseason, whether through free agency or via trade.
Does that surplus supply, combined with possible questions about Rask’s commitment level after opting out of the playoffs due to a family emergency, lower the demand for Rask?
Or does the fact that Rask would statistically be the best goalie available outweigh all that and mean there is still value to be had in a trade?
The 33-year-old Rask is entering the final year of his contract and carries a $7 million cap hit. That would likely take him out of play for a team looking for a long-term goaltending solution, but could be appealing to a team looking for more of a short-term fix that doesn’t want to commit big years or money to a free agent.
If the Bruins were to trade Rask, they would almost certainly have to enter the market for another goalie to replace him. This postseason proved that 35-year-old Jaroslav Halak probably isn’t capable of handling an everyday, workhorse No. 1 role at this point, and young prospects Jeremy Swayman, Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser may not be ready to handle an NHL platoon yet.
It would seem highly unlikely that the Bruins would be interested in handing out a huge contract to Robin Lehner, Jacob Markstrom or Braden Holtby, all of whom are between ages 29 and 31 and are likely looking for long-term commitments.
But there are a few older free agents who can still play and whom they might be able to sign to a shorter-term deal, such as Dallas playoff hero and former Bruin Anton Khudobin, former Stanley Cup Final nemesis Corey Crawford, and Islanders 1-B Thomas Greiss.
Sweeney could potentially sign one of them for a couple years, which would give the Bruins one year of a platoon with that goalie and Halak. Then you’d re-evaluate after next season when Halak’s contract is up and see if one the young netminders is ready to step into that role and platoon with whoever you sign now.
Or Sweeney could have something else entirely up his sleeve. Or they could just hang onto Rask, which still feels like the most likely outcome.
Seravalli has another interesting Bruins note in his column, which is that the Oilers have shown interest in both Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk as they look to boost their left wing position. He adds that DeBrusk, who is an Edmonton native, is likely too expensive for them, however.
On Bjork, though, Seravalli reports that the two sides have engaged in talks on a left/right swap, with right wing Alex Chiasson heading to the Bruins in return.
Chiasson, who is 6-foot-4, just turned 30 and played college hockey at Boston University. He had a career-high 22 goals and 38 points for the Oilers in 2018-19, but saw those numbers drop to 11 goals and 24 points this past season.
He has one year left on his contract with a $2.15 million cap hit. Bjork, who just turned 24, had nine goals and 19 points last season, and the Bruins just signed him to a three-year extension in July with an annual cap hit of $1.6 million.