NHL Trade Speculation: Why Tim Thomas Should Be Traded

Peter MillsContributor IIIJanuary 30, 2012

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 28:  James Neal #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Team Alfredsson takes a shot on Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins and Team Chara during Tim Hortons NHL Elimination Shoot Out part of the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Scotiabank Place on January 28, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There's a lot to be said for Tim Thomas.

In the past three seasons, he has twice led the league in save percentage and goals-against average. Last year, he set the all-time season record for SV percenage with an impressive .938. Over those three seasons, he amassed 88 wins and just 40 losses (not to mention 19 shutouts), and also brought home two Vezina Trophies—a Jennings and the Conn Smythe.

But there's one big problem with those three seasons: They didn't happen 10 years ago.

Tim Thomas first appeared in the NHL at age 28, but only really hit his stride in 2008-09 at the age of 34. This season he is once again putting up superstar numbers, and he's 37 (38 in April). It's a feel-good story for sure and a bit of an anomaly, but it also means that he has maybe—and keep in mind I'm being extremely optimistic here—four years of above-average play left.

Older goalies just can't keep going at a certain point. It has happened to all of the greats that stuck around long enough to outlive their stardom (see: Martin Brodeur). While Thomas may be among the best in the league right now, he will not last long in the league. It's inevitable.

Now some might say: "The Bruins just won the Stanley Cup! Even if he only has a few years left, they could still dominate while he's around!"—they wouldn't be wrong.

But the twist here is that the Bruins find themselves in the ridiculously fortunate position of having two superstar goalies.

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Tuukka Rask, who is Thomas' backup, currently sits at second in the league in GAA at 1.82. He is tied for first in SV percentage at .938. In short, he's putting up Thomas-esque numbers. The main difference though, is that when Tuukka celebrates his birthday in March—he'll be turning 25. Yes, 25.

He may not be Thomas, but you remember that three-year span when Thomas dominated?

Well, Rask still managed to find time to dethrone the starter and lead the league in GAA and SV percentage in 2009-10. Not bad for a backup.

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 18:  Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins stops a shot by Zac Dalpe #22 of the Carolina Hurricanes on October 18, 2011 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

And that's just the problem. The Bruins currently have a starting goalie playing backup. Rask is old enough to lead his own team, and the Bruins would be foolish to lose him—and that means losing Thomas.

It'll have to happen eventually. Rask is the goalie of the future. But right now, Tim Thomas' trade-value is sky-high. During a time when more than a couple of teams are desperate for reliable goaltending, it might make sense to test the market.

While the Thomas-Rask situation has been building for a while, this past week's events serve to amplify the need for a move. I'm referring, of course, to Thomas' refusal to go to the White House.

I don't want to get into my opinion of his choice to miss the visit. It was his decision to make. But the manner that Thomas chose to skip, which is to say posting a message on Facebook making vague critiques of the government, drew unneeded attention to the situation and isolated his teammates.

It's apparently bad enough that a member of the Bruins organization was willing to (anonymously) call him a "(expletive) selfish (expletive)."

Tension between a player and his team and/or organization aren't necessarily enough to warrant a trade, but when you consider the circumstances it's hard to believe the Bruins wouldn't be better off with Rask in net—along with all the talent that a Thomas trade would bring.


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