SUNRISE — Tim Thomas wanted back in the NHL. The Panthers wanted goaltending help.
It might be a perfect match.
The two-time Vezina Trophy winner agreed to a tryout deal with the Panthers on Monday, nearly a year and a half removed from his last game. Thomas will be on the ice with Florida for practice today, and Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said his talks with the star of Boston's run to the 2011 Stanley Cup convinced him that the move was right.
"He really wants to play, and he really wants to lead, and he really wants to be the starter, and he wants to win, and he wants to win now," Tallon said. "I was very impressed with him. His attitude is terrific. I liked everything that he had to say, and I liked his approach."
Thomas is expected to address reporters today.
Florida's projected starter in goal is Jacob Markstrom, the 23-year-old Swede who went 8-14-1 with a 3.22 goals-against average last season. Markstrom's GAA was tops on the Panthers — but just 44th in the league among regular goalies.
So with Markstrom's relative level of inexperience — he's made only 29 NHL starts — plus the departure of free agent Jose Theodore and veteran Scott Clemmensen needing at least a couple of more weeks to recover from knee surgery, the Panthers made it known they wanted some help.
In parts of eight seasons, Thomas has a 2.48 goals-against average, stopping just more than 92 percent of the shots he has faced. He wrote on his Facebook page in 2012 that he was taking a season off from hockey to focus on "friends, family and faith." He also made news by not joining the Bruins when they visited the White House in celebration of their Stanley Cup, saying he chose to skip the event because the "federal government has grown out of control."
Tallon said he was not worried about Thomas' layoff or any other on-ice issue.
Preseason: The Panthers scored three goals in the third period and beat the Predators 6-3 in the first game of a split-squad, preseason doubleheader. Scottie Upshall and Erik Gudbranson had two goals each for Florida.