Yesterday afternoon, Thomas, 39, signed a one year deal with the Panthers. The deal comes with a $3.75 million cap hit, $2.5 million of which is base salary and $1.25 million is in potential performance bonuses.
“It felt good for being the first time in a game-like atmosphere for 15 months,” Thomas told the Miami Herald after the game. “I think it was a necessary step for me. I thought it was good not to wait. We’re running out of preseason games. I feel ready now.”
Jacob Markstrom allowed two goals on 15 shots faced including the overtime game winner by Nikita Kucherov four minutes into the extra frame.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored both of the Panthers goals in his first game of the pre-sesaon. He had been held out of the previous games for cautionary reasons as he is recovering from off-season hip surgery. Both goals came on the power play with Dmitry Kulikov providing the helper on the first goal and Brian Campbell and Tom Gilbert on the second.
The Panthers dropped their pre-season record to 2-1-3 while the Lightning improved to 5-1-0. Closing out games has been the big difference between the two South Florida teams so far as the Lighting have won three times in OT while the Panthers have lost three times in OT/SO. If this trend continues into the regular season, the Panthers will be again very grateful for the ‘losers point’.
Florida wraps up their pre-season on Saturday with a home re-match against the Lightning. Keep on eye on the Panthers today as they will be announcing their new owners at a 10:00 am press conference.