So it’s starting to sound like Tim Thomas is going to be returning to the NHL after a year away from the game to refocus on what he called the “three F’s” of family, friends and faith.
Thomas is reportedly ready to get the big H back in his life as well, and it was reported Monday that he’s interested in resuming his hockey career for the 2013-14 NHL season. That immediately got hockey fans wondering as to where the quirky goalie may end up. Thomas will be a free agent on July 5, and since the free-agent goalie market is a little weak this year, he may garner some attention.
Where exactly will he end up? Let’s break down the chances, in no particular order.*
Why it makes sense: The Flyers need a goalie after they recently bought out another nutjob in Ilya Bryzgalov. Adding Thomas to the mix alongside Steve Mason might give the Flyers a formidable tandem. Philly also makes sense because Thomas would be able to run around on off days checking out some of the America’s most historic landmarks like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Geno’s Cheesesteaks.
Why it doesn’t make sense: The Flyers, whose reckless spending over the last few years likely reminds Thomas of the government’s similar spending habits, might not have the funds to make a deal. Then again, Thomas is returning after an entire year off, and he’s 39 years old, so he doesn’t exactly have a ton of leverage. Also, Philly is goalie hell, so No. 30 will have to deal with that as well.
Why it needs to happen: Tim Thomas. In Philadelphia. There’s nothing else to say.
Random tweet about Thomas joining the Flyers:
Tim Thomas just 'poked' the Flyers on facebook.—
Bryan F. (@kesrows) July 01, 2013
New York Islanders
Why it makes sense: The Islanders don’t have a goalie, either. The Isles, who acquired Thomas’ contract from the Bruins just to get to the cap floor, have a ton of money to play with. They also don’t have a goalie under contract as both Thomas and Evgeni Nabokov are unrestricted free agents, while they’re reportedly buying out Rick DiPietro. If Thomas is looking to play for a winner, the Islanders did give the Penguins all they could handle in the playoffs this past season.
Why it doesn’t make sense: Because it might make sense, and the Islanders don’t necessarily have a track record of doing things that make sense.
Why it needs to happen: Because Tim Thomas has been on a metaphorical island for the last year, and you might as well make it real now?
Random tweet about Thomas joining the Islanders:
Tim Thomas allowed zero goals against in all of 2013. Surprised the Islanders don't toss him 12 years on that stat alone—
John Beattie (@JohnBeattieNESN) July 01, 2013
Why it makes sense: Thomas spent the last year in Colorado as part of his attempt to get away from the NHL. So he’s familiar with the area.
Why it doesn’t make sense: The Avs already have both Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere signed through 2013-14. Also, Colorado is in the midst of a rebuild, which might not be too appetizing to a player of Thomas’ ilk. It would also be tough for Colorado forward Steve Downie to have to face Thomas every day in practice and have to be reminded of this.
Why it needs to happen: The Thomas-Patrick Roy dynamic would be fun to watch.
Random tweet about Thomas joining the Avalanche:
I can't think of a single team that's a better fit for Tim Thomas than the Colorado Avalanche. #Varlamovblows—
Mat Fargas (@26ozofwhiskey) July 02, 2013
Why it makes sense: Hypothetically speaking, let’s say the Canucks decide that even though they have already traded Cory Schneider, they eventually decide the relationship with Roberto Luongo is too frayed. At that point, Mike Gillis either bites the bullet and buys out Luongo’s massive deal or he finds some poor sucker to make a trade with. If all of that happens, monumental ifs at that, Thomas might make sense, no? It’s not like the Canucks don’t know what he’s capable of. Or how about Thomas backs up Luongo or vice versa?
Why it doesn’t make sense: “My contract sucks.”
Why it needs to happen: Can you just imagine a Thomas-Luongo goaltending controversy with John Tortorella making the calls?
Random tweet about Thomas joining the Canucks:
Wonder if Canucks will "kick tires" on Tim Thomas...would make for interesting media.—
(@DanB_23) July 02, 2013
Why it make sense: Dealing in hypotheticals again, it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world if the Penguins bought out Marc-Andre Fleury, especially after the disaster that was his 2013 postseason. Pairing Thomas and Tomas Vokoun (signed through 2013-14) could make sense, too.
Why it doesn’t make sense: The Penguins have to use any and all money they save to pay for the huge contracts they continue to give out in their quest to re-up players like Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz and perhaps eventually Kris Letang.
Why it needs to happen: So the Bruins and Penguins can meet again in the Eastern Conference finals with Thomas manning the net for Pittsburgh.
Random tweet about Thomas joining the Penguins:
I hear Tim Thomas wants to get back in the game. If only I had a subtle hash tag to declare to him his b̶e̶s̶t̶ only option. #Penguins—
Chris Bach (@Chris_M_Bach) July 01, 2013
Tampa Bay Lightning
Why it makes sense: The Lightning goaltending situation is an absolute mess. Signing with Tampa Bay would allow Thomas and fellow Vermont Catamount alum Martin St. Louis to play together. No state income tax in Florida!
Why it doesn’t make sense: The Lightning stink.
Why it needs to happen: There is no good reason for this happening, unless you hate Thomas and want to see him playing meaningless hockey for an entire season for a bad team.
Random tweet about Thomas joining the Lightning:
Tampa Bay for 1 year? RT @Real_ESPNLeBrun: So, Tim Thomas will be UFA Friday like any other player on an expiring deal—
Ted Ryan (@TedRyanVT) July 01, 2013
Why it makes sense: Many think the Sabres will end up trading No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller. If that happens, there will be an obvious need for a goalie, which Thomas could satisfy.
Why it doesn’t make sense: Another rebuilding project.
Why it needs to happen: Imagine if Milan Lucic ran over Thomas, too?
Random tweet about Thomas joining the Sabres:
Tim Thomas enters the goalie sweeps. You sure you couldn't have moved Miller before now Darcy? #Sabres—
NeedMoreHockey.com (@NeedMoreHockey) July 01, 2013
Why it makes sense: The Oilers have plenty of front-line talent up front among their forwards, but they still need to fortify the back end if they’re going to turn this into something. That starts with improving the corps of defensemen, too, but adding Thomas could make those D-men look a lot better, too.
Why it doesn’t make sense: Because Edmonton is far away — from everything, including competing for a Stanley Cup.
Why it needs to happen: Oil Change: Tim Thomas and a Bunch of Young Whippersnappers
Random tweet about Thomas joining the Oilers:
Steve Durkee (@stevedcj) July 02, 2013
Why it makes sense: Pretty much the same reasons it would make sense to join the Lightning, other than Marty St. Louis, of course.
Why it doesn’t make sense: The Panthers, like their Florida counterparts in Tampa, also stink.
Why it needs to happen: Tim Thomas on South Beach.
Random tweet about Thomas joining the Panthers:
Tim Thomas wants to play in the NHL again..well we know he doesn't want a trip to the White House so that means he'll sign with the Panthers—
Brian (@TBLfan37) July 01, 2013
*All salary cap figures come from CapGeek.com.