Earlier today, it was announced that former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas has agreed to a camp tryout for the Florida Panthers. After spending an entire year on a hiatus, Thomas is now attempting to make a return to the NHL.
As mentioned last week, it would’ve been very shocking to find out if Thomas had received a ton of offers from around the league when he announced his interest in returning. Unless a club was looking for a temporary stopgap, it would’ve been foolish for him to assume he would get an offer to start anywhere. Most likely, a team just needing some veteran presence in net would be behind the majority of interest Thomas would’ve received.
As it stands, that’s exactly what happened. The Panthers aren’t exactly expected to contend this season, and rightfully so. They’ve been moved into a division with many imposing foes, such as Boston, the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. Things certainly won’t be as easy as they were last year in the Southeast division.
Also, they recently handed the starting goalie job over to youngster Jacob Markstrom. He only had eight starts coming into last season, and posted somewhat decent numbers in his 23 games last year. Since the team is hardly in “win now” mode, they can afford to give Markstrom a year to see if he’s the franchise goalie or not. They also have Scott Clemmensen on the roster, however he proved to be very unreliable last season.
If there’s anything a young netminder needs when he’s preparing for his first full season as starter, its a solid veteran backup. If Thomas indeed makes the Panthers, he’ll be everything Markstrom could need and more.
Thomas boasts two Vezina trophies, a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe trophy, which is more than enough to solidify his credentials as a mentor. What it will come down to, though, is how Thomas sees himself at this point of his career.
If Thomas makes the team and can fully accept the role of veteran backup and teacher, it’ll definitely help Markstrom in his attempts to sharpen his game. However, if pride becomes a factor and Thomas believes he’s still a starter at the ripe age of 39, things could get messy. He may not embrace the idea of mentoring Markstrom in attempts to make himself look like the better goalie.
Either way, he has to make the team first. After a year on the couch, Thomas now has to show the Florida front office that there aren’t any rust issues. Even more intriguing; if he makes the team, how quickly does he circle October 17 on his calendar? Surely he’d hope for the chance to start against his former Boston teammates.