Both goalies are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after this season, thus they don’t have to be protected from Seattle’s clutches, nor do they have to worry about becoming a Kraken against their will.
The always accurate godfather of NHL insiders Bob McKenzie reported on NBCSN Wednesday that the Bruins are open to bringing back one of Rask or Halak, or both. There’s no doubt Boston would sign up for another season of the two veterans keeping the Bruins near the top of the league in goals-against average. But it’d be better, if they’re assured that both Rask and Halak want to come back, to wait.
The Bruins have to expose one goaltender that meets the minimum requirements for the expansion draft. Right now, the Bruins have 23-year-old Callum Booth filling a spot on their taxi squad during a one-year contract. When his deal expires, Booth will be a restricted free agent and meet the criteria.
Prospect Dan Vladar, who the Bruins have developed since drafting him in the third round (75th overall) way back in 2015, also meets the requirements for exposure. So, if the Bruins want to continue to groom Vladar for taking over their crease in the near, post-Rask future, they’ll protect him. Should the Bruins sign Rask or Halak to an extension now or anytime during the season, suddenly Vladar could be living in the land of a million Starbucks.
The relationship the Bruins have developed with Rask and Halak — two goalies that are not only excellent at their craft but seem content to live in Boston and thrive in the Bruins’ culture of responsibility and accountability — should be strong enough to trust that if they wait, the Bruins will take care of them.
In a perfect world, Vladar and Jeremy Swayman become the next Rask-Halak duo. So, it’s best to put Rask and Halak on hold to make sure the future of Boston’s goaltending is as bright as its present.
Frederic for top six
When fans file into TD Garden later this month for the first time in more than a year, more than a few will be wearing Trent Frederic shirts. The rookie is quickly becoming a fan favorite for his ferocity and fearlessness — not to mention he picks the right targets (Brendan “son of Claude” Lemieux, Tom Wilson).
But Frederic has also shown some hands around the net and a desire to go where the goals are — the opposing crease. If coach Bruce Cassidy’s attempt to get Nick Ritchie going as David Krejci’s left wing doesn’t work out, it might be wise to see if Frederic could clear some space for Krejci and whoever’s on right wing (Craig Smith? Jake DeBrusk?) while also putting his skill in tight-area plays to use.
Obviously, this would be a temporary move. Frederic projects more as a third- or fourth-line center (which will come in handy should Sean Kuraly leave as a UFA in the offseason), but for the rest of this season, and in the playoffs, Krejci might benefit from Frederic’s youthful energy and size. Cassidy was recently quoted in a story about Ritchie bringing a “little bit of Lucic” to the Bruins’ lineup. Well, Frederic might actually be the current Lucic comparable and so it might be wise to let him fill Lucic’s old role.
Circling back to the expansion draft, I doubt the Bruins will add a defenseman that’s signed beyond this season via trade. Right now they’ll be protecting Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk. Unless they trade Grzelcyk for an upgrade on D (Mattias Ekholm from Nashville), they’ll risk losing Grzelcyk for nothing. The Bruins have never shown an inclination to trade the BU product and that doesn’t figure to change. So think more about rentals for the Bruins’ D corps before the trade deadline next month.
What’s the point?
If ever there was an example of why the NHL has to revamp its points system it’s the recent results between the Bruins and Washington Capitals. The Bruins have won one of the three games against the Caps this season, but have picked up four points. The Caps have won two games and earned the same number of points. Does this make sense to anyone