Sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? This kind of sacrilegious speculative talk leads to the immediate removal of hockey blogger licenses, and for Canadian bloggers a banishment to a country with no known hockey rink (Morocco?)

Yes, the mere suggestion of the above headline right now goes beyond the absurd. We’re not even one month removed from the conclusion of a playoff run in which Tim Thomas was the driving force behind Boston’s championship, and especially in the Stanley Cup final. Timmay won the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Vezina while shutting out the Canucks twice in the final, capping off a year in which his regular season save percentage of .938 set an NHL record.

That’s why aggressively shopping the central figure in Boston’s first championship since 1972 would turn an NHL general manager into a Playstation general manager. But doing the exact opposite could still have the same effect.

There’s no reason why right now, as teams face a barren free agency market on the goalie front, Peter Chiarelli shouldn’t at least be listening to offers for Thomas if they happen to land on his desk.

So please, just stay with us for a moment before unleashing your fists of fury and consulting your keyboard reassembly manual.

One year ago at this time there was legitimate buzz around this conversation. That probably has something to do with the phenomenal season Thomas began in October, but we’re just guessing. After the confetti settled on Boston’s victory parade and there was a few moments for sober reflection, Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston talked to Chiarelli.

The Bruins GM confirmed a heavily circulated rumour during the previous summer. He said that Thomas was indeed considered to be somewhat serious trade bait, and he was taking calls.

“There were some calls and I kept him in the loop at all times. He kept stressing he didn’t want to leave. I said, ‘I know. Let’s just look at his options very briefly.’ I know there were a lot of stories that flowed from it, but I can’t stress enough the fact that Tim never wanted to leave.”I wouldn’t be doing my job if I at least didn’t look at some things, and I did. You go through those things, on a number of fronts on a number of players.”

The decision now looks like an easy one, but in those hazy times of June and July of 2010, the Bruins’ goaltending situation was far from clear. Thomas’ no-trade clause that lingers until July 1, 2012 clearly complicated matters, and he had offseason hip surgery. The veteran netminder had just finished a season in which he platooned with the then 23-year-old Tuukka Rask. Both goalies posted strong numbers, but Rask’s 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage were superior.

Fast forward one year, and the decision to move Thomas and ask him to waive his NTC is either much easier, or far more difficult, depending on how your hockey mind operates and whether you’re driven by emotion, or realism. Regardless, Chiarelli should still be approaching his crease with an open ear.

Thomas is 37 years old with two years remaining on his current contract, and his value will never be higher. That’s the same observation Stanley Cup of Chowder made way back in November when Thomas was off to a blazing start, but still wasn’t triple crown Timmy yet. Even though the circumstances have obviously changed seven months later, one core point still rings true.

NHL players aren’t stocks.

We know Tuukka Rask can be a top 10 goaltender, and so if you can turn a hot player into an asset, and manage your salary cap, you need to do it.  But from a team harmony perspective, it’s absolutely the wrong move.

Chemistry has to trump perceived player stock value at some point, and if the Bruins believe they can get two more Vezina calibre years out of Thomas, trading him remains a foolish thought. If only it was this easy though, and Chiarelli didn’t have Rask’s expiring contract to worry about.

Although he’ll be limited by his RFA status, Rask will become a free agent next summer, and will seek a raise from his current yearly cap hit of $1.25 million. Thomas dents Boston’s payroll to the tune of $5 million annually. Combine the contracts of his two goaltenders with the 10 other free agents Chiarelli will juggle next summer (a group that includes RFA David Krejci, and UFAs Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Rich Peverley, and Joe Corvo), and suddenly treating the cup hero like an asset starts to become more of a necessity.

Thomas’ astounding play has made us forget his age at times. Elite goalies who flirt with the age of 40 while still maintaining a consistent perch in the crease can begin to erode past 37. Martin Brodeur has played at a high level since his 37th birthday two years ago, but he’s also missed 66 games due to injury during that time. Dominik Hasek’s Stanley Cup during his 37th year on this planet throws a wrench into things, but has it even been proven that he’s human?

Rask is a former first round pick, and at 24 years old he’s been groomed to presumably be Boston’s future in goal. Potentially paying two goalies somewhere in the neighbourhood of a combined $8 million annually beyond 2012 isn’t ideal, and would leave Chiarelli with a heavy anchor.

Someone might have to go either in the offseason or in the build-up to the trade deadline, and it could be the formerly red-bearded saviour.

You may begin yelling now…

Comments (9)

  1. it is sad to think about it but realistically it makes sense rask is ready to play, and thomas’ trade stock will never be higher

  2. Only problem is the Bruins have virtually no holes that need plugging so what would they gain by trading Thomas? More draft picks?

    The playoff run proves the Bruins top 12 forwards are as deep as any in the league and while they could potentially upgrade the bottom of their defensive depth chart it’s not really a pressing need. Furthermore thanks to some good moves by Chiarelli (*cough* Kessel *cough*) Boston also has above-average (if not spectacular) prospects coming through the pipeline most notably the continued development of Seguin, Jordan Caron, and kids like Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner.

  3. I hate the Bruins, I mean really hate them. Imagine that for a second, but I hate them more then the Nordiques…But you have to admit that Chiarelli is one heck of a DG.

    They built trough the draft and by trading for youngster.

    They have a bunch of young players with skill and grit. And what’s worst, they are probably the team with the best prospects…A deep pool of prospects. Imagine in a couple of years, the likes of Lucic, Krecji,Marchand, Caron,Seguin, Hamilton, Mcquaid,Raask and the list goes on…

    Yup, I really hate the Bruins!!!!

  4. CH, you’ll note that the Bruins tend to not simply pick players because their last names match up with what their hometown media would like. If your team took that philosophy more seriously, they might be up there with the Bs in terms of assets.

    As for Thomas – he’s a ‘young’ 37, much like Simmons’ famous example of a boxer that’s spent a lot of time in prison. In his case, he’s only played 60+ games in a regular season twice that I can find – and even this year, only played 82. Similarly, Hasek first played professionally in the very early 80s, but didn’t play more than 40 games / year until 93-94. My guess is that he’ll be effective on the other side of 40.

  5. Stephen :

    I’m french and I dont mind when MTL is picking up a english kid. I dont want the Habs to be half french or all french, I want them to win.

    The problems comes with the old Nordique Fan base. They came in with the same ideology of the 80′s where you could have a team with a lot Quebecois in it. It was then took up by Habs fan that the last time they won the cup, in 93, the Habs had a lot of french talent.

    What these guys dont count, is that the pool of players available today is a lot deeper then it was some 20 years ago. There is a lot more of European and even american hockey players in the league then in 1993. Back in these days, most of the players where from Canada with a couple of European players. It was easier back then to get yourself more french player as the league wasnt international. To do that today, it would mean having a club a lot less competitive then it is actually.

    There’s a lot of MTL fans that would like to have the Lecavalier, Giroux, Gagné,Brodeur etc…of this world, but they forget that for every Lecavalier, there is an Alexandre Daigle. For all the Gagné there is a Eric Chouinard, for all the Giroux, there’s an Angelo Esposito.

    Drafting french-canadian as some fans want, doesnt guarantee you a competitive club. You have to respect the fact that we need some of the french canadian, but not to an extent where your team will lost some good players because, like you said, you draft with the name on the back of the jersey.

    Some of these obssessed fans with the french thing are the same that watch the séries like Lance et Compte and think that in the hockey room, it would speak french and be one of the best team in the league. That’s what the Nordique Fans want, and is what some habs fans think it would be better…but it is an utopia to think that it will ever happen outside a series like Lance et Compte…for the same reason cite already, the hockey today is more international then ever. The % of Canadian hockey players is a lot less then it was 20 years ago, therefor, the % of french-Canadian in the NHL is lower today then it was 20 some years ago.

    I know it, I just hope my fellow French Habs fan would get it as well!!!

  6. is someone mad that that they lost to the bruins in the first round?

  7. Well said, CH. Nice to see some Habs fans are still somewhat realistic.

    (Also: Holy shit, He Shoots He Scores is back on the air!?! How did I miss this???)

  8. Stephen :
    they even did a movie that came out this year.

    The team travels to Chicoutimi for a caritative game I think, when they come back, TRAGEDY, they are in an accident with the bus and half the teams die!!!!

    They are getting closer to general hospital fans or days of our live with these scenario….

    Pretty lame..notting to compare with the firts 3 season where it was about hockey and women and drinking. Now, it’s emotional douche scenarios…sad

  9. @lh : WTF are you talking about. Did you read anything he wrote or did you just notice he was a Habs fan and decide to take a little jab at him.

    @Le fan du CH : As a B’s fan it is nice to hear a Habs fan be humble enough to make a valid point about his team. Well said.

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