Eccentric goaltender Tim Thomas will try to make his way back to the NHL with the Florida Panthers after accepting a Professional Try-Out Contract (PTO) with the team. He is expected to arrive at Panthers training camp on Monday.
Thomas, 39, is trying to return to the NHL after taking off the 2012-13 season. His last season in Boston, 2011-12, was a controversial one, with Thomas refusing to attend a team function for the then defending Stanley Cup Champions at the White House, due to his political beliefs. After the Burins lost in a seven game first round series to the Washington Capitals, he then announced he was taking a year off in a strange facebook rant indicating that the world was headed for an imminent financial crisis and he was headed home to prepare with his family. Overall Thomas finished the year at 35-19-1, with a 2.36 GAA, and a .920 Save Percentage.
In his eight-year NHL career Thomas has appeared in 378 career games, all with the Bruins. He has a 196-121-45-31 career record with a .921 save percentage and a 2.48 goals against average. Thomas is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner (2009 and 2011), and won the Conn Smyth Trophy in 2011 as playoff MVP as he led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup. He is also a four-time NHL all-star.
There is little doubt that Thomas was an elite goalie prior to his hiatus, but the question remains if he will still be at that elite level, especially since he plays a very unorthodox style that relies on his reflexes and never quit attitude.
The Panthers have not re-signed last season’s starter in Jose Theodore, allowing him to leave as a free-agent. They were planning to go with uber-prospect Jacob Markstrom, veteran NHL backup Scott Clemmenson as their tandem this year, but a pre-season injury to Clemmenson has left the team looking for other options. In addition to Thomas, the team reportedly extended PTO offers to Theodore (who is still unsigned), and former Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
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