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Would Tim Thomas really be the Tampa Bay Lightning's answer in goal?



A report from Comcast Sportsnet said the Lightning was one of several teams that had spoken to the Bruins about goaltender Tim Thomas, and that Thomas would be willing to waive his no-trade clause if he went to a team for which he could be the starter.

Thomas has been a very good goaltender for the Bruins with a 126-91-35 record with 17 shutouts. But there are plenty of reasons to look at Thomas with caution.

For one, he is 36 years old and coming off a frustrating season in which he went 17-18-8 in 45 games with a .915 save percentage and 2.56 goals-against average and lost his No. 1 spot to Tuukka Rask. Okay, goalies, like every player, can struggle here or there. But the real concern would be the surgery Thomas underwent May 21 for a torn labrum in his left hip.

A story in the Boston Globe said the injury was from normal wear-and-tear, but it also said recovery time is three to four months. That means Thomas could be ready by late August, but perhaps more toward the start of September training camp would be a better guess. Thomas also will not be able to undertake his usual offseason program.

That is a lot of ifs for someone who has three years and $14 million left on his contract and is scheduled to make $6 million next season.

The Lightning has questions in goal, no doubt. Mike Smith has struggled the past season and a half, and Antero Niittymaki is an unrestricted free agent and would make a team a wonderful backup. So, it's not surprising general manager Steve Yzerman would be exploring his options.

I'm not saying a motivated Thomas could not bounce back and return to the elite form he showed in 2008-09, when he was 36-11-7 with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. I'm just saying given Thomas' injury and his price, the buyer should definitely do his due diligence.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 12:15am]


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