Right at the end of the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline, the Dallas Stars swooped in to trade for Florida Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas, giving away a fellow veteran Dan Ellis in exchange. This is surely one of the more low key moves that happened in the run-up to the deadline, but it makes the Stars one of the teams to watch come playoff time.
By this point in his career, everyone knows what you are going to get in Thomas. The 39-year-old isn’t the most fundamentally sound of goalies, but he is exceptionally mobile and athletic and somehow seems to always get the job done. That he has compiled a 2.87 GAA and .909 save percentage in 40 games played behind a brutal Panthers team is a testament to that, and come playoff time he is the type of battle hardened and competitive player any team would love to have.
The role that Thomas is going to be facing right off the bat is not going to be a starting spot, but he will slot in behind Kari Lehtonen, who is the exact opposite from Thomas in terms of style. And while at this point there is no justifiable way to supplant Lehtonen without watching him slip up, there is actually ample reason to believe that the 30-year-old will falter.
Never before has he been the main man for a team that competed for a Stanley Cup, and he has an unsightly 0-2 record with a 5.59 GAA and .849 save percentage in the playoffs. As everyone who follows hockey knows, quirky things tend to happen come playoff time and goaltending switches come aplenty. This is a move that ensures the Stars are ready for this move with a former Stanley Cup champion waiting in the wings.
Currently the Stars are no sure bet to make the playoffs as they sit in eighth place, but they have the Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Cancuks and Winnipeg Jets all chomping at the bit to take this spot. Still, out of these teams the Stars are clearly the favorites to take the spot and make noise in the playoffs as they have a core of forwards that has both veterans and young stars and a core of talented puck movers on defense. Adding to that a two-headed monster in goal makes the Stars a near lock to make the playoffs and positions them to stun some people once they get there.