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Tim Thomas given 4 years $20 million

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe is reporting that Tim Thomas has signed a 4-year $20 million extension with the Boston Bruins. It is reported that Thomas will make $6 million the next season two seasons, $5 million in the third year, and $3 million in the last year of the contract.

I am very confused by this move. Why give a 35 year-old goaltender a four year deal?

Peter Chiarelli will now likely have his work cut out for him trying to sign David Krejci and Phil Kessel in the off-season after both players had breakout seasons and will likely want a big pay day to match. The money in this deal was pretty comparable to the market for goaltenders, so I don't have a problem spending $5 million a year for Thomas' services. The problem I have with this deal is the length of the contract and the fact that it is front loaded so the Bruins take a $6 million hit for the next two years, which will certainly complicate things this off-season.

What does this mean for Tuukka Rask? Does this mean that Tuukka Rask is no longer seen by those in the organization as "the goaltender of the future"?  I thought that the Bruins would give Thomas a 2 year deal and let Rask be his understudy for a few years to get him ready to be a starter in the NHL. Now, I'm not exactly sure what their plans for the future are regarding regarding Rask.

I thought the timing of the move was a bit odd given that the Bruins are about to enter the post-season and most teams wouldn't want the distraction of contract negotiations this time of year. Then, I realized that Peter Chiarelli wanted to sign Thomas before he turned 35 in order to take advantage of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement that would allow the Bruins the opportunity to buy out Thomas' contract at a better rate in the future. 

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't the last Bruins GM get fired in part for giving Thomas a 3 year extension shortly before his of 32nd birthday? I wouldn't have given Thomas more than 2 years at $11 million, but again I'm not an NHL GM with a degree from Harvard. I can't say I love this move, but remember a lot of people second guessed Chiarelli when he signed Michael Ryder in the off-season and that worked out pretty well. We'll just have to wait and see how this one plays out.