But even as the other pieces are being put into place, the topic of Thomas' strange departure continues to crop up. It did again on Wednesday when Chiarelli conducted a conference call to discuss the re-signings of centers Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell.
The Thomas talk didn't dominate this call the way it did Chiarelli's June 1 call to discuss Daniel Paille's extension when the GM confirmed reports that Thomas was going to sit out the season, but the topic did eventually get brought up on Wednesday as well.
Chiarelli was asked about Thomas' "explanation" for his unexpected sabbatical that the goalie posted on his Facebook page two days after that Paille conference call.
"I haven't seen his 'infamous' Facebook post," Chiarelli said, wryly repeating the adjective used by the reporter to describe Thomas' message. "I'm aware of it."
Chiarelli also stated that he has not spoken directly with Thomas, but has talked with his agent, Bill Zito, who communicated that Thomas remains committed to sitting out the season.
"I've talked to his agent in the last little bit, and nothing's changed," Chiarelli said. "If you're asking me if he's clarified that he's not playing this year, he's stated that through his agent that he's not playing for the year, so I guess that's where that stands. Nothing has really changed since the last time I spoke."
Things have changed in regard to how Chiarelli has to assemble a team now without the two-time Vezina winner. Chiarelli remains confident in a goaltending duo of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, but still must re-sign Rask, a restricted free agent whose is also represented by Zito and who now has significantly more leverage in negotiations.
The dead money left on the cap with Thomas' $5 million hit also impacts any other moves Chiarelli may try to make, though he again stated that the ability to push Marc Savard's $4 million cap hit into long-term injured reserve covers the bulk of that.
"I'm operating on the premise that our goalies will be Tuukka and Anton," Chiarelli said. "So yes, it's had an impact because Tim won't be playing for us. I'm not going to tell you everything, but there's a whole host of things that trickle down from that one event. So short answer yes, it has had an impact."
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