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Thomas may sit next year

Goaltender contemplating taking 2012-13 season off

TIM THOMAS He’s injury-free TIM THOMAS He’s injury-free
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / June 1, 2012
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Tim Thomas has one season remaining on his four-year, $20 million contract. That final year, however, may be in doubt.

According to ESPN.com, Thomas is thinking about taking the 2012-13 season off. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told the Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont that he would comment on the report on Friday.

It would be a peculiar decision for the 38-year-old Thomas. The goalie is in good health. During the 2010 offseason, Thomas required hip surgery, but he has been injury-free since the procedure.

Thomas has not stated whether he would like to continue playing after his contract expires. Thomas has only been an NHL regular since 2005-06, when he made 38 appearances, but could merit consideration for the Hall of Fame because of his late-career brilliance.

Thomas’s feelings about next season cloud an already uncertain summer for the Bruins. If Thomas returns, he again will team with Tuukka Rask. The puck-stopping tandem has been one of the NHL’s best the past three seasons.

However, Thomas’s return already was undecided. His no-movement clause expires July 1, which would free the Bruins to trade the two-time Vezina Trophy winner for cap relief. The Bruins must re-sign Rask, who will become a restricted free agent July 1.

The Bruins believe the 25-year-old Rask is ready to assume a bigger workload. This season, Rask went 11-8-3 with a 2.05 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. On March 3, he suffered a lower abdomen/groin strain against the Islanders. Rask didn’t play again.

The team is also negotiating with center Chris Kelly. The alternate captain will reach unrestricted free agency July 1.

If Thomas doesn’t report to the Bruins for 2012-13, the final year of his contract would be pushed ahead to 2013-14, and he would likely be considered a suspended player.

The Bruins would not be subject to Thomas’s $5 million annual cap hit. However, this rule could be amended upon the agreement of a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA is scheduled to expire Sept. 15. Negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA have not started.

Thomas is coming off a regular season in which he went 35-19-1 with a 2.36 GAA and a .920 save percentage.

In the playoffs, Thomas went 3-4 with a 2.14 GAA and a .923 save percentage.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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