Rask signs tryout agreement with Bruins AHL team, likely to play Friday

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Tuukka Rask is expected to play for Providence of the American Hockey League on Friday, the next step in a possible return to the Boston Bruins.

 

The 34-year-old unrestricted free agent goalie signed a professional tryout agreement with the the Bruins AHL affiliate on Thursday. Providence hosts Lehigh Valley on Friday and Sunday.

Rask had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip in late July and has been working out at the Bruins practice facility through his rehab. The Bruins said earlier in the week that once Rask was medically cleared, they would like to see him get game action to gauge his readiness to return to the NHL. He’s been informally practicing with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

He has not played in a game since at 6-2 loss to the New York Islanders in Game 6 of Stanley Cup Second Round on June 9. 

“I think everything else is on schedule,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said Tuesday. “Obviously it depends on when is he cleared for live action, it doesn’t matter if it’s the American League or the NHL, he needs to be cleared. So that’s the next hurdle for him is clearance to play.”

The Bruins host the Minnesota Wild on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, NHL LIVE) before a two-game road trip at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and the Washington Capitals on Monday. They said Rask will not join them on the trip.

Boston returns home to play the Montreal Canadians on Jan. 12.

Rask was 15-5-2 with a 2.28 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and two shutouts in 24 games last season. The Bruins have been using goalies Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark this season. Swayman is 8-5-0 with a 2.20 GAA, .920 save percentage and one shutout in 15 starts. Ullmark is 9-5-0 with a 2.58 GAA and .917 save percentage in 14 starts.

The Bruins (17-10-2) are fourth in the Atlantic Division, 13 points behind the first-place Lightning.

“[Rask] certainly looks the part out there right now,” Cassidy said. “He’s come along very well. You’re never sure with surgery how it’ll go, complications, etc. He got through it, put the work in. I’ve seen him in the gym every morning here when it’s his scheduled time, so clearly he’s taking it seriously and wants to rehab as quickly as possible. So credit him, 100 percent, for his work ethic through this whole thing. Looks good on the ice and time will tell how that translates.”

Rask, who has played his entire 14-season NHL career for the Bruins, is their leader in wins (306) and second in shutouts (52) behind Tiny Thompson (74), with a 2.27 GAA and .921 save percentage in 560 NHL games (540 starts). He was the backup to Tim Thomas when Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2011, then was the No. 1 goalie when the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2013, a six-game loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and 2019, a seven-game loss to the St. Louis Blues.

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