Thomas is going nowhere fast
Tim Thomas is still a Bruin, and he spoke briefly yesterday with his agent, Bill Zito, about where his future will lead. But that’s nothing new. Zito two weeks ago was given written permission from Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli to look for NHL employment elsewhere for the former University of Vermont star and Vezina Trophy winner.
That kind of stuff leads to a lot of agent-client talks. But for the moment, it hasn’t led to anything more.
“I am not proactively looking for places for Timmy to be traded,’’ Zito said yesterday, shortly after tsn.ca reported that Chiarelli had issued the get-out-of-Boston permission slip. “I haven’t talked to anyone to this point, and I don’t anticipate talking to anyone.’’
To be clear, the 36-year-old Thomas, the game’s top netminder in 2008-09, has not waived the no-trade clause that was written into the four-year, $20 million pact he signed with the Bruins in the spring of 2009. He may never waive it. But he’s not saying that, nor is Zito. Not now.
The only thing to change in the last two weeks is that Chiarelli, by granting the permission slip, has made formal his desire to move the veteran goaltender, content that Tuukka Rask is the club’s goalie of the present and future.
“Here’s what Timmy is saying,’’ said Zito, who also represents Rask. “He’s saying, ‘Look, if you want to move me, sure, I’ll look at it. I’m not going to be a jerk and just say I’m not going anywhere, forget it.’ But that’s all he’s saying.’’
Left unsaid is that Thomas has the call here, and he can stay put, earning salaries of $6 million, $5 million, and $3 million over the next three seasons. If one of the 29 other NHL teams wants him, it must find out whether Thomas cares to play in that city, and it also must work a deal with Chiarelli. To take on Thomas’s cap hit of $5 million, it’s a virtual guarantee that any club would want to send most, if not all, of that $5 million back to Boston in the form another player or players.
More than anything, Chiarelli is counting on Thomas’s thirst for competition to be the driving force that leads the goalie to: 1. surrender the no-trade clause and 2. agree to go to the specific team that would care to trade for him. Obviously, that would have to be both a good city and a good team, which limits the possibilities of making a deal that already had limited possibilities of happening.
“I know what’s out there now — a story that says I’m out to get a deal done,’’ said Zito, the Chicago-based agent who was instrumental in finding Thomas work in both Europe and North America. “But that’s just not true. Absolutely nothing has been brought to me. No team has come to me and said, ‘Yes, we want him, would he come here?’ And I am not actively canvassing the NHL to find Timmy a new place to play.’’
The market is likely to remain tepid for Thomas. From afar, GMs see a 36-year-old netminder with a slightly unorthodox style whose play dipped slightly this past season and who then had surgery on a slightly torn hip labrum soon after the season. He also did not play a single minute in the playoffs, another hindrance to his tradeability. Even a shrewd GM, one fully aware of Thomas’s acute competitive nature, wouldn’t be eager to make a deal.
Keep in mind, Chiarelli has been in active trade mode for the last month. Witness his swap this week for Nathan Horton. All the other GMs by now are well aware that Thomas is there to be had, that they can talk to Zito or Chiarelli about making a deal, but thus far no calls, no requests, no deals.
All of that can change in a flash, of course, but that’s not likely. The far better bet is that Thomas and Rask are both in Black and Gold come October, and they’re likely to split the starts against Phoenix for the season-opening games Oct. 9-10 in Prague — unless Thomas outplays Rask and gets both starts, perhaps a greater possibility than Thomas ever being dealt.
Just as Thomas’s name has been out there for two weeks, ditto for Marc Savard. It is safe to assume that Savard’s agent, Larry Kelly, who is also Chiarelli’s ex-business partner, can chat up GMs about a Savard swap.
Savard is owed a touch more than $28 million over the next seven years of his no-trade contract. Ottawa and Calgary are two clubs that may have the most interest. Atlanta would be a third. The Senators must decide whether they are going to ditch Jumbo Jason Spezza. Calgary needs a pivot for Jarome Iginla, who tried hard to persuade Savard to sign there in the summer of ’06. And Atlanta, Savard’s stop before Boston, could desperately use his touch. If Savard were swapped there, he would work for Craig Ramsay, who is leaving his assistant coach’s role here to take over the Thrashers bench.
Overall, it’s a far better bet that Savard is out of here, especially after he heaved Vladimir Sobotka under the bus for the too-many-men mixup in Game 7 vs. the Flyers. Tyler Seguin in, as the No. 2 pick in tonight’s draft. Savard gone. Thomas here to stay — at least for now.