It’s Facebook official. Set your clocks to STT (Standard Tuukka Time). Tim Thomas has all but come out and stated that he does not intend to play hockey next year. Instead, he’ll be concentrating on the three F’s. Family, Friends, and Faith. While his sudden and surprising announcement has many Bruins fans making their own list of F-words, here’s one you may want to consider first. Fantastic!
While Thomas’ apparent self-benching throws a sure wrench in the B’s Stanley Cup, it’s certainly not going to derail the playoff train. If anything, it finally clears the door for Peter Chiarelli to make the trade he’s been trying to pull since at least 2009. With Thomas falling out of fan favor and a Cup in the rearview mirror, he can safely be moved out of town. And honestly, what else did he expect to happen? That he’ll return a fresh, polished 39 year old and just be handed over the reigns? File under Brady v. Bledsoe, 2001. Tuukka’s no Tom, but at the same time, Timmy’s not walking through that door anytime soon, so like it or not, Rask’s your starter. And what’s not to like? He’s had the skills and now hopefully he’s got the seasoning. The future is here. So, let’s trade Thomas.
The big question is, who is going to want a 38 year old goaltender who’s not committed to playing next season? Allot of folks, that’s who. Remember, Thomas has a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe, and two Vezinas on his recent resume. Dominik Hasek, whose style was very similar to Thomas’ wild, flopping play, competed at a high level until he was 43, capturing a Cup in his final season. Now, four years later, rumors are circulating that he’ll attempt a comeback. Someone will give him a tryout. Just like when Facebook went public, Thomas’ stock is just a little down right now. While the offseason probably isn’t the best time to make a deal, if the Bruins are willing to eat part of his salary, they may be able to swing him at the deadline to an up and coming team with their eyes on 2013-14. Every year there are teams that need to make the decision whether they are in, or out. A team with allot of young talent that’s on the outs may be in the market for the right goaltender to carry them the following season. That’s where Thomas comes in. With a year of rest, new perspective, and Olympic aspirations to play for, a forward thinking GM could pick up an all-star caliber goaltender at a bargain price. Come deadline day, what’s Peter Chiarelli’s favorite move? Adding depth. We’ll gladly take your twilight veteran or Benoit Pouliot type draft bust in need of a new home for our extra (and unneeded) baggage. It’s a win-win. As Axl Rose once crooned, “ all we need is just a little patience”.
Based on this year’s standings, and some numbers from CapGeek.com, I’ve narrowed it down to three realistically potential trade targets:
Edmonton Oilers; Nikolai Khabibulin is done after next season… if he makes it. Souray comes off the books and a trio of UFA defensemen is unlikely to stay. Why not add a top back-stopper to compliment a budding, and uber-talented, offense? The Oilers are assured another top pick in this year’s draft. By summer 2013, a few key free agents acquisitions could make this a formidable bunch… with the right goalie.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Dwayne Roloson was done last season. The core of the offense is locked up long term. 32 year old UFA Marc-Andre Bergeron would be a nice prize, though maybe a bit of a reach. Re-unite Thomas with his old Catamounts teammate Martin St. Louis.
Colorado Avalanche: If the Avs are willing to let J.S. Giguere walk, Thomas could be a perfect fill in while Semyon Varlamov waits in the wings. It’s a young team with some talent, they just need a little more pedigree. The haul? Remember Chuck Kobasew? Guy was an absolute animal who had some of his best seasons in Boston. Wouldn’t mind seeing him come back to provide some gritty depth in time for the playoffs.
No matter how you slice it, Thomas was only one piece to the Bruins pie. Losing him hurts, but if he’s going to be gone for the season, you might as well give Rask the vote of confidence. It’s his position to lose now. Buckle up kids, it’s Tuukka time.