Tim Thomas is an extremely talented goalie, and his sheer will to win is not easily found in goalies.
That said, the Bruins need to make a daring move this offseason to trade Tim Thomas to build for the future and clear cap space.
Tim Thomas is the ideal rental player. He will provide great goal-tending for two to three years, and he will give teams that are missing a good goalie a shot at the Stanley Cup. There are also many markets that aren't willing to accept another losing season, such as Toronto and Columbus. Toronto's media will beat down on the Leafs if they have another playoff-less season, and Columbus simply needs a good season after an abysmal one.
The Bruins have a lot of leverage in this situation. Nashville parted with a first round pick for Paul Gaustad, and Tim Thomas far surpasses Gaustad's value as a player. The Bruins could make a trade at the draft for a talented youngster, building for the future while simultaneously clearing a solid amount of cap space. The Bruins have Rask, and he is as ready as he will ever be to become their starter.
Tim Thomas can officially be traded on July 1st. Teams that are making a run at the Cup are usually willing to part with key prospects to get a talented rental player. His cap hit is $5 million, and even if Peter Chiarelli doesn't make any huge signings, resigning a player like Seguin or Lucic becomes that much easier.
The bottom line is this: The Bruins need cap space for the future, have an extremely talented backup in Rask and could make a significant signing with that extra cap space if they are so inclined.
Thomas is also no longer an "untouchable" after the White House debacle. Bruins' fans would certainly not be pleased with the trade, but Chiarelli needs to do it. Rask is ready to be a starter, and beginning this offseason, they need to pay him like one. Why give Rask another year in the shadow of Thomas? Rask is a top-flight goalie with a lot of pride, and another year backing up Thomas could damage his confidence.
There is no point in dragging a painful goodbye out another year.
Hey, I love Thomas as much as the next Bruins' fan, but Peter Chiarelli needs to bite the bullet on this one to preserve future success of the franchise.