The rumors are true and have been confirmed by trustworthy sources, including the team itself: the New York Islanders have acquired Tim Thomas from the Boston Bruins in exchange for a conditional second-round pick in the 2014 or 2015 NHL entry draft.
For the Islanders, it’s all about money. They aren’t yet over the cap floor and the deadline to get over the cap floor is tomorrow, so they needed to get some insurance against not being cap compliant for the entire season.
If they’re actually expecting Thomas to play a single second this season, especially considering the goaltending drama on Long Island, they have another thing coming. He has publicly said that not only would he be uninterested in playing for the Bruins, but he’s also not particularly interested in playing anywhere else either.
The condition, by the way, that will lead to the Bruins getting that pick? If Thomas reports for a game or if the Islanders trade his rights at some point in the future.
I suspected a while ago that this might happen: Thomas’ $5 million cap hit was weighing pretty heavily on the Bruins’ already weighty payroll, to the point that I think the team actually scrimped last summer by only offering Tuukka Rask a one-year contract when he could’ve easily gone multi-year. Sure, part of it is wanting to see how Rask will do in net, but I did think that money motivated it to an extent as well.
Because he is over the age of 35, Thomas’ cap hit counts no matter whether or not he plays, making this an ideal move for the Islanders.
So, whereas the Bruins are one of the teams that are almost touching the cap ceiling, the Islanders were just trying to get out on the floor. They’ve done so now, freeing up the Bruins to perhaps make some signings when the trade deadline, which is in April, draws nearer.
This is definitely a strange way to possibly cap off a career that took a strange turn near the end, though.
UPDATE: In a conference call with the media, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said that he talked to Thomas before the trade and Thomas was comfortable with the idea. Chiarelli added that he had been in discussions with the Islanders for some months about this swap. In addition, he acknowledged the invaluable contributions that Thomas made to the 2011 Stanley Cup champion team.