- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Now that the season is over, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli’s top priority will be to sign goaltender Tuukka Rask to a long-term contract.
The sides tabled talks of a contract extension once the lockout-shortened season began last January, and discussions are expected to begin in the coming days.
“I’m going to see Pete right now so maybe I’ll have it signed by this afternoon,” Rask said with a smile, while speaking with the media during the team’s exit day Wednesday at TD Garden.
In 22 games during the Stanley Cup playoffs, Rask posted a 14-8 record with a 1.88 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. The 26-year-old netminder also posted three shutouts in the postseason. Overall in 2013, Rask was 19-10-5 with a 2.00 GAA and a .929 save percentage, including five shutouts.
Rask should receive a major payday, upwards of $60 million for at least seven years. Chiarelli would not go into details of a potential deal, only saying he expects it done soon.
“Well, you’d like to get everything done quickly,” Chiarelli said. “I don’t know if I’ll have that luxury, but certainly I’ll try just so you have your certainty on your team and cap and all that. He’s obviously had a terrific playoff and we’d like to get him done as soon as we can.”
Since Rask is a restricted free agent, the Bruins should have him locked up before the free-agency period opens on July 5 and other teams can make him an offer sheet, which the Bruins would have to match in order to retain him.
Rask has no intentions of playing elsewhere and wants to remain in Boston.
“That would be an ideal situation to play here forever,” Rask said. “I hope we can make that happen.”
A year ago, Rask and the Bruins agreed on a one-year deal that paid him $3.5 million. He proved his worth this season and has earned a long-term deal.
“I don’t think I have to answer those questions anymore,” he said. “I played good and proved to everybody again I was capable of doing it. You look at the numbers, they’re good. If I analyze my game by how I felt throughout the year, I thought it was a great year.”
Unlike the majority of his teammates, Rask finished the season relatively healthy.
“I was 100 percent. I felt really good,” he said. “Actually, I felt better and better as the playoffs went on. Maybe I was a little bit surprised by that, but I’m really happy I was able to feel that way.”
Still, losing in the Cup finals to the Chicago Blackhawks was a painful blow.
“Pretty brutal, still. It sucks,” Rask said. “We’ll move on. I’ll try to enjoy the summer and not focus on hockey.”
Rask also said Wednesday that his name is on the Finnish roster for next winter’s Olympics if the IOC and the NHL agree to have players participate.
7dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald