USATSI_7314576_154158418_lowresThe Boston Bruins have rewarded their number one goalie with a juicy eight-year contract worth a reported $56 million.

There was never any serious doubt that Tuukka Rask would be back for the Bruins, of course, but the particulars had to be hammered out. In part, the team was waiting until they cleared some cap space – something they were able to do thanks to the departure of one Tyler Seguin.

With the party boy gone and $4.75 million in cap space cleared, the path to tack on Rask’s $7 million annual cap hit was in place.

Rask’s contract is the maximum allowed for a restricted free agent, so it’s plain to see that Boston really wanted their man. Now, the Bruins netminder ties Nashville’s Pekka Rinne for the highest cap hit in the NHL for a goalie.

Remember, too, that Rask is coming off a one-year contract with the Bruins that paid him $3.5 million last season. He proved his mettle with a 19-10-5 record in the regular season to go with a 2.00 GAA and a .929 save percentage. No, his Bruins didn’t win the Stanley Cup against the Chicago Blackhawks – but Boston isn’t Vancouver and goalies can still get recognized in other markets for having a darn good year. No, I’m not bitter…

What’s more, Rask really, really wanted to continue to play in Boston and he was motivated to get even better.

“You always try to be good but then you are trying to get your average game level as high as you can,” he said after his team’s Cup Final exit, “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 was drafted in 2005 by the Toronto Maple Leafs and was eventually traded to Boston for Andrew Raycroft. He has worked to prove himself ever since and often played second fiddle to Tim Thomas, but once the veteran netminder took a year off it was time for the Finnish keeper to shine – and shine he did.

Along with his other accomplishments, Rask helped his Bruins take it to the daunting Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals and stymied that team’s most threatening scorers. He allowed just two goals in the series and made a total of 123 saves.

With their goalie locked up, the Bruins are reportedly now focusing their energies on inking Patrice Bergeron. He’s on the last year of a three-year deal.