It’s been a few days since the Dallas Stars acquired Tim Thomas from the Florida Panthers, and the move makes sense the more it settles in. General manager Jim Nill had said before the trade deadline that he was not interested in bringing in a rental player, and yet, that is exactly what Thomas is. What Thomas adds to the Stars’ goaltending position is more than just a warm body, however. Thomas should provide Dallas with a higher quality of start than Dan Ellis did, and will give Kari Lehtonen rest when needed. Moreover, he adds experience, stability and maybe most important of all, a healthy dose of competition.
Thomas has yet to start for Dallas, but already there has to be a sense of competition building between Thomas and Lehtonen. Thomas had to waive a no-trade clause to come to Dallas and part of why he would do so is because Thomas clearly wants to play. Had he stayed with the Panthers, Thomas would have taken a huge backseat to Roberto Luongo. Dallas won’t be using Thomas as a starter, but he should see more action than he ever would have in Florida.
Ever since taking over as starting goaltender for Dallas, Lehtonen hasn’t really had any serious threat to his position. It’s been clear that he is No. 1 and with good reason. Lehtonen has been the lifesaver for the Stars for the past five seasons, making those big, impossible saves that give his team a chance. Still, there has been times where Lehtonen has seemed hesitant to really go all out. Whether it’s a fear of injury or something else, it’s clear that Lehtonen has more in him. The presence of Thomas, a viable starting goaltender in his own rights, can easily help push Lehtonen to an even higher level of play.