The Dallas Stars‘ only move on the day of the trade deadline may have been one of the best moves around the league that day.
Sending back-up Dan Ellis to the Florida Panthers for Tim Thomas did several important things for the Stars. The most obvious result is that they upgraded their goal-tending. While Ellis was a decent backup, it was clear that if Kari Lehtonen went down with an injury, the Stars would be in trouble. Not even two games after his arrival, Lehtonen suffered a concussion and Thomas stepped up as the starting goalie.
Thomas’ arrival also helped the Stars financially for next season. Ellis still had a year on his contract whereas Thomas is a free agent at the end of this season. He is a veteran with lots of experience and a history of battling to prove people wrong. To have such an athletic, fiery, reliable goalie in net helps the team’s game at both ends and really boosts their confidence and trust.
He has shown exactly what he can bring to the team over the past two games. He has appeared in two games for the Stars so far and won both. They also happened to be two of the biggest games of the season so far for Dallas. He was calm and dependable. He showed his will to never give up on a play. He has already stopped 41 of the 44 shots he has faced. With a new team, a new system and being thrown into three tough circumstances, that is phenomenal, especially considering he registered two wins in those appearances.
Thomas began his stint with the Stars with two quick appearances in less than ideal situations. His first appearance came in the third period of a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Two nights later against the Columbus Blue Jackets, his first start was cut short after nearly seven minutes when teammate Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench, resulting in the game being postponed.
In his first full game, which even included some overtime for good measure, he was solid in net and provided exactly what the Stars had hoped for when they brought him to Dallas. He was really aggressive in net. He occasionally came out of the crease to stop the puck, he fought through screens and did well handling rebounds for the most part.
With the uncertainty around how long Lehtonen will be out, the Stars will look to Thomas to continue to lead them down the stretch. The good news is that the team got everything they hoped for in Thomas, and he has already shown that he can lead them on in their march to the playoffs.