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Report: Tim Thomas on verge of signing new deal with unspecified team

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By Allan Muir

Controversial goaltender Tim Thomas made it known earlier this summer that he was ready to end his year in the wilderness and return to the National Hockey League. The response was a sound he’d become familiar with during his exile in Colorado: crickets.

To this point, there has been little interest expressed in the unrestricted free agent, but that may be about to change. According to ESPN’s Craig Custance, Thomas is in discussions with several teams and could sign with one soon, possibly later today.

There’s no reason to dispute Custance’s reporting. He’s as good as they come in the business. Still, the landscape is such that there can’t be many teams willing, or able, to take on Thomas. So where would he land?

Custance doesn’t specify that Thomas is talking to NHL teams, and that might be noteworthy. Thomas molded himself into a world-class goaltender while playing in Finland’s SM-Liiga, so there’s always a chance that he sees a return to Europe as a real option — especially if he thinks playing on the big ice might put him in a better position to make Team USA for the Sochi Olympics.

But he has young kids now, and he might be disinclined to drag them overseas. If that’s the case, he doesn’t have a lot of options.

With Scott Clemmensen sidelined after knee surgery and Jacob Markstrom still unproven, the Panthers might be a good fit for Thomas. In fact, Florida might be the only fit for him. Thomas’ agent, Markus Lehto, told a Vancouver radio station this morning that his client wants to be a No. 1 goalie again. And while Lehto said that a signing wasn’t coming today, he confirmed that he and Thomas are in discussions with several teams.

Posturing? Probably. Despite yesterday’s official retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff, it’s highly unlikely that the rebuilding Flames would have any interest. And while a return by Thomas to the Islanders isn’t out of the question, the timing doesn’t make much sense. Evgeni Nabokov is set for the majority of starts, and it’s believed that New York would also like to give Kevin Poulin a chance to prove himself. If one of them falters, then maybe Thomas fits in down the road. Now, though, he would just be a spare part.

Every other team appears to be fully committed in net, at least to its starter, so Lehto is probably hoping to get one club to bid against itself for his client’s services.

Let’s just hope there’s something to this rumor. Love him or hate him, Thomas is the rare athlete who is both entertaining on and off the ice. It would be fun to have him back.

UPDATE: Multiple sources, including Bob McKenzie are reporting that Thomas was offered, and has since rejected, a training camp invite by the Panthers. He’s holding out hope for an actual contract, rather than a PTO, but if Florida isn’t willing to commit, his only real chance to be a No. 1 might be overseas.

  • Published On Sep 10, 2013
  • 5 comments
    melissa2361
    melissa2361

    Tim Thomas? Why is anyone talking about him? It's like Tim Tebow- talented people who manage to focus away from their talent by being idiots, and winning the admiration of a small group of equally idiot fanatics.

    Thomas, when the team is asked to the White House, YOU GO. You are a TEAM. NO ONE CARES about your political leanings.

    Tebow, Jesus and God have way better things to do than manage your career. They've made that pretty obvious!

    oasis1994
    oasis1994

    As a Bruins fan I want him to fail after what he did. He has an array of issues and really messed up his legacy in Boston after the 2011 season.

    As a hockey fan I hope he does sign and proves that he still has it.

    Bill89
    Bill89

    Thomas is his own person,You have to respect a guy who walks away from the NHL and a huge payday to find himself. But he may have hurt his chances to play in the NHL again because teams don't like it when a player speaks his mind and wont be the teams puppet. Where ever he play's that team is going to get a well seasoned and professional goalie. Thomas never gives up on any play he'll throw every thing out there to stop the puck, He is on a ton of highlight reel's for his saving ability.

    Where ever he ends up I wish him the best of luck and if he doesn't sign with a NHL team the NHL will lose one of the best goalies who ever played the game.

    alainricha
    alainricha

    What a bout Calgary?  Now that Kiprusoff retired, they cetainly can use him!

    SteveMehlman
    SteveMehlman

    This is the dude who stole the spotlight from his Bruin teammates by refusing to go to the White House to receive recognition for winning the Stanley Cup.  I'd sure want him on my team...not.