Tim Thomas was a fan favorite in Boston for a few years, but now his back-up status and his $5 million salary is really starting to get on the nerves of even the most faithful fans.
With the Bruins right up against the cap, they can’t afford to carry a back-up goaltender with that kind of hit, especially for another three years.
Complicating the issue, his no-trade clause makes it a little more difficult to move him, for he will have to give the ok to be traded to whatever team they bargain with. There have been reports that the B’s are shopping Thomas and that the Flyers, Sharks, and Lightning are all teams that are interested in his services for next year. This gives some indication that Thomas may waive his NTC in order to be a starter for another club.
The Flyers goal-tending proved to be shaking in this year’s Stanley Cup Final, with numerous soft goals given up, including Patrick Kane’s eventual Game six overtime winner on Michael Leighton. The Flyers are also up against the cap and would need to make cap space for Thomas, but he’d definitely be an upgrade to their net minding, and would almost certainly steal a few games for them over the course of a season.
Unfortunately, moving a guy like Simon Gagne may be a price they’d have to pay in order to acquire Timmy, as well as being a necessary move in order to have sufficient space under the salary cap.
The San Jose Sharks have shown similar interest in the goaltender. With Evgeni Nabokov becoming a free agent on July 1st, Thomas may be a more economically satisfying goalie with the money that Nabokov may demand.
The Sharks have over $23 million in cap space for 2010-2011, but have priority players such as Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Manny Malhotra, and Devin Setoguchi that will tie up a lot of that space. That doesn’t leave as much room as they’d like for a goaltender, and a $5 million cap hit is a lot; but keep in mind you’re getting a former Vezina winning goaltender. If talks with Nabokov fall through, expect San Jose to make a run at Tim Thomas.
Tampa Bay has had goal-tending woes for years, but with Steve Yzerman as their new general manager you can expect big changes in a short time frame. And with Mike Smith not living up to his high expectations, you can imagine that he’ll be looking for not only a suitable replacement, but a sufficient upgrade.
The Lightning have about $22 million in cap space, but like the Sharks, have a handful of players to re-sign. However, they have most of their big-money guys locked up, and the players they have to negotiate with won’t come with such a hefty price tag as the ones in San Jose.
With that said the Lightning have the money to spend (if they choose to spend up to the cap) and the need to fill the void at the position with Antero Nittymaki becoming a free agent on July 1st.
Tampa Bay may be the best fit for Thomas, but for the Bruins management any team is a good fit for Thomas, because his cap hit will no longer be on their books.