When Tim Thomas decided to sit out the 2012-13 NHL season, he did so with the expectation that when he chose to return, the league would welcome him back with open arms. Well now he is ready to return but the question is, does any team want him?
There have been a few teams who at one point or another seemed like a good fit for Thomas. The Flyers and Islanders were two teams who’s names kept popping up in Tim Thomas rumors but now it appears both franchises are content to move forward with their current goaltending situation. Signing Tim Thomas would be a difficult endeavor for most teams. Think about it, Thomas is 39 years old and hasn’t played in the NHL since April of 2012 on top of that, he would require a contract of at least a couple million a season. Not many teams have the cap flexibility to sign Thomas and the teams that do have a lot of cap room probably wouldn’t want an aging fill-in keeper in the first place.
Enter the Florida Panthers. As surprising as it sounds, the Panthers could be the best fit for Thomas. Florida currently has two goalies in Jacob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen but if the team feels like the 23 year old Markstrom is not ready to be the full time starter, they could sing Thomas and send Markstrom to the AHL (he is on a two-way contract for the upcoming season). Thomas would give the Panthers a jolt of credibility and a big name to sell to their apathetic fan base. Would he be an upgrade in the net? That question cannot be answered until Thomas gets on the ice and proves that he still has his chops.
Personally, I hope the Panthers steer clear of Thomas. On the surface it might seem like Thomas would be a fit with the Panthers but when you dig deeper it becomes clear that Thomas would be a good fit in the same way a fourteenth century corset was considered a good fit. The Panthers have committed to going young, they have committed to the growing pains that will come with their youngsters’ developments. They are a team that probably will not be very good next season but at the same time they are a team with a lot of room to grow and a big part of the Panthers’ immense potential is their talented young goaltender Jacob Markstrom. If the Panthers are willing to commit to their young players everywhere on the ice, what would be the point of adding a 39 year old goalie who’s presence would smother the development of their future in net.
What would the Florida Panthers get out of signing Tim Thomas? If he at all resembles the player he was before his break, they might get a few extra wins but at what cost? I do not see Thomas as the difference between qualifying for the playoffs or not. His presence could garner some hockey excitement in South Florida, and he could solidify what was a dreadful weakness last year but I think in the long term, a Thomas signing would be bad for the Panthers franchise.
Do you think the Panthers should sign Tim Thomas? Do you think they are even interested at all or is this just a media created rumor? Would he really want to go to a rebuilding franchise? Share your thoughts below.