Its official; Tim Thomas is no longer on hockey hiatus. After being given a tryout with the Florida Panthers, Thomas was given a one year deal with the team. The contract is worth about $2.5 million, however the cap hit is about $3.75 million due to the performance bonuses.
General Manager Dale Tallon announced the signing yesterday, stating “Tim is a proven winner who we are pleased to have signed.”
“He is a fierce competitor who brings to our club a wealth of experience including a Stanley Cup Championship, two Vezina trophies and a Conn Smythe,” he continued. “He is a hardworking, driven and dedicated individual who will help our club achieve future success.”
Thomas’ signing alone is worth note. After spending his entire NHL career with the Boston Bruins, he took a year off after the team was bounced from the playoffs by the Washington Capitals in 2012. He must have chipped off a lot of rust before his tryout with Florida.
However, not only will Thomas make his return to the league this season, the whispers in the wind are saying he’s actually going to be the Panthers’ starter this year.
Last season, it appeared the team was getting ready to hand starting spot to Jakob Markstrom. Now, not only did Thomas earn a spot on the team, it also looks like his presence will delay Markstrom’s chances of being the team’s starter.
This move will definitely be one to keep an eye on this season. Who knows, maybe Thomas won’t lose a step at all despite his hiatus. He may just surprise everyone and show off his Vezina winning form.
Of course, things could go the other direction. Its tough to assume Thomas will just jump right back into action and perform just as well as he was before going on a year-long vacation.
Either way, the Panthers aren’t exactly expected to contend this year. They can probably afford to just take a flyer on Thomas as a starter. In the end, Thomas will give the team more time to find out if Markstrom is indeed their goalie of the future.