Melville, NY – Just because Tim Thomas chose not to play in the National Hockey League for the 2012-13 season, didn't mean the Boston Bruins were going to let him languish.
On Thursday, the B's announced that the 38-year-old netminder was dealt to the New York Islanders in exchange for a conditional second-round pick in either 2014 or 2015.
"This has been in the works for a while. "Nothing would suggest to me that he's coming back this season. It gives us some flexibility from cap perspective..I talked before about being proactive...this will give us flexibility immediately," said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. "If something comes along now, I wanted to be in the position that we would be in the ball game."
Additional reports revealed that the Islanders will only receive the pick if Thomas reports to the team.
It is a curious move, given the Isles' crowded crease which already includes veterans Evgeni Nabokov and the oft-injured Rick DiPietro.
However, according to several sources, New York needs to reach the salary-cap floor of $53 million, and Thomas' "35-plus" contract, which includes a cap hit of $5 million pro-rated for this truncated season, will help satisfy that requirement regardless of whether or not Thomas actually plays.
"We have acquired an asset for our organization," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "This acquisition allows us flexibility with our roster moving forward."
Thomas, who decided to take this season off from hockey to spend time with his family in Colorado, had agreed to waive his no-trade clause in the offseason. He was scheduled to make $3 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent. He was promptly suspended by the Bruins after failing to show up for training camp.
The native of Flint, Michigan and University of Vermont product won the Vezina Trophy as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2011, leading Boston to its first Stanley Cup title since 1972 by going 16-9 with a 1.98 goals-against average and four shutouts in their successful playoff run.
However, his 2011-12 season was clouded by controversy surrounding a refusal to appear with the rest of his teammates at a reception given by President Obama in Washington in January -- something customary for champions of all major pro and college sports which dates back almost three decades.
Despite the uproar, Thomas finished 35-19-1 with a 2.36 GAA and five shutouts, but he was unable to lift the defending champions in the postseason. Boston lost a first-round series to the Washington Capitals, eliminated in overtime of a Game 7 on home ice.
In 378 appearances since 2002, Thomas has compiled a 196-121-45 mark, 2.48 GAA and 31 shutouts in the regular season, also going 29-21 with a 2.07 GAA and six shutouts in 50 postseason contests.