After taking a one year hiatus from the NHL, two time Vezina winner Tim Thomas is attempting a heroic comeback. Of course this comeback is all contingent on him actually signing with a team.
The Calgary Sun has reported that the Tim Thomas sweepstakes is, well, lukewarm at best. The paper has said that Thomas hasn’t made much, if any, progress” and that “general managers don’t seem to care” if he is ready to return to the NHL or not. Simply put, Tim Thomas is not longer the hot commodity on the market.
You can’t really blame GM’s either. Thomas is 39, he’ll turn 40 during the season, and at that age, most goaltenders have either hung up the pads and skates or they are reduced to backup roles. Even worse for Thomas, he is coming back from being away from the game for a year and at age 39, it’s hard to just pick up the game again and expect to play at the elite level Thomas had been playing at.
During his meteoric rise, Tim Thomas had gone from lovable underdog to unlikable blowhard. It all started when Thomas blew off the President and decided not to join his teammates during a visit to the White House. Thomas took a political stand that didn’t sit well his fans and started his slide with the Bruins. Suddenly, Thomas had become a distraction.
When the Bruins made the playoffs that year, Thomas did not look like his 2011 self. The Bruins went out with a whimper in a seven game, round one loss to the Washington Capitals. With a goal by Joel Ward, a chapter in Bruins history had been closed.
Now, Thomas is looking for a job in the NHL. Some teams that need goaltending help have decided to go in opposite directions rather than contact Tim Thomas.
The Philadelphia Flyers were Tim Thomas’ team of choice when he hit the free agent market. The Flyers needed some goaltending help and it was obvious. Ilya Bryzgalov had played his way out of Philly with his underachieving and inconsistent play and Steve Mason just doesn’t seem like the long term answer.
It made sense for the Flyers to make a run at the former Conn Smythe winner, but alas the Flyers did not. The Flyers opted to go another round with the once former Flyer Ray Emery. Emery is coming off a very good season as Corey Crawford’s backup for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. It was about time that Emery had gotten another chance at being a number one goaltender.
New York Islanders
The Boston Bruins traded Tim Thomas to the New York Islanders in February for a future draft pick. Thomas never did suit up for the Islanders as he was steadfast in taking his hiatus from the sport. Thomas’ contract expired and his tenure on Long Island ended before it really even began.
The Islanders could use some help between the pipes. Currently, the Isles have Evgeni Nabakov and Kevin Poulin as its goaltenders. Nabakov is getting any younger, he just turned 38 in July, and it makes absolutely no sense to have two goaltenders almost 40 years old on your roster.
It looks like the Islanders are going to stick with young Kevin Poulin and it’s probably the best thing for the Islanders at this point. Poulin could be the team’s goalie of the future and should get as much experience as possible.
I figured I’d include the Bruins despite zero chance of Tim Thomas returning to Boston. I have a better shot at Kate Upton than Tim Thomas does at signing with the Bruins.
Although, I’m not exactly thrilled with the Bruins current backup, Chad Johnson, Bruins fans are pretty much over Thomas. While they may never forget his heroics in 2011, Tuukka Rask has taken the reins and isn’t looking back.
Thomas had rubbed some Bruins staffers the wrong way with his White House snub and some of his teammates didn’t like how he walked away from the game and his team. I don’t believe he would be welcomed back with open arms in Boston and I don’t think Thomas would even want to return anyway. A fresh start for Thomas is for the best.
The Panthers are a bad team. Really bad. The Panthers don’t appear to be getting any better either despite Jonathan Huberdeau and incoming rookie Alex Barkov. Mainly, it’s Florida’s goaltending that’s setting the team back.
The Panthers ranked dead last in save percentage at a pretty low 88%. The Pantehrs are going to be entering this upcoming season staying status quo at goaltender with Scott Clemmensen and Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom signed a new two year deal with the Panthers recently.
Florida could be Thomas’ best and last chance at returning into the NHL. Whether or not the Panthers are interested in Thomas is unknown, but the team should at least kick the tires. With young players like Huberdeau and Barkov, a solid goaltender in net could just eke out a playoff spot.
As I said before, Thomas is getting up there in age, but the Panthers really have no great options in net, do, the team should take a look at the very least.
Where do you think Tim Thomas will wind up, if he even gets an offer? Comment below or send me a Tweet, @MarkWGraham
Mark Wallace Graham has been a writer for TheHockeyWriters.com since March 2013. Growing up in New England, Boston Bruins hockey was in my blood. Follow me on Twitter, @MarkWGraham