Tim Thomas asks agent to explore return to NHL next season

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Tim Thomas sat out last season and had his contract traded to the Isles. (USATSI)
Tim Thomas sat out last season and had his contract traded to the Isles. (USATSI)

More NHL offseason: Rumors | Top 50 Free Agents | Top 50 Prospects | Mock Draft

He's baaack.

Tim Thomas could be coming to an NHL team near you. The former Bruins goaltender who took a year sabbatical from the NHL and then was traded to the Islanders is now a free agent. After some pondering, it appears Thomas is ready to look for a return to the league.

The news was originally put forth by Kevin Woodley of In Goal Magazine and then was seconded by both Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun. Those two said an official annoucement is expected soon, in time for free agency in a couple of days. Lastly, it was confirmed by his agent, Bill Zito, in what is apparently his new Twitter account.

In other words, let the Timmy Thomas watch begin!

It took all of about two seconds for the connections to be immediately made between Thomas and the Philadephia Flyers. As you'll recall, they are kind of hurting for a starter right now with only Steve Mason signed at the moment. They need another goaltender, and Thomas has shown he is pretty darn good.

But that was before he took a year off. And that was before he had a pretty rocky ending in Boston that all began when he was a no-show at the Bruins' visit to the White House after they won the 2011 Stanley Cup. Considering the relationship the Philly media just got out of with Ilya Bryzgalov, that could be an interesting dynamic should it come to pass. Just as fun would be Thomas in Vancouver, serving as Roberto Luongo's backup.

It's not as though the Flyers and Canucks would be the only teams in play, however. There are a couple of other teams looking for goaltending help and, at this point, Thomas could be brought in as a backup, or at least in a 1A, 1B situation.

However, the more immediate question is what kind of talent does he still have. He turned 39 in April and, again, took an entire season off. However, in his last campaign in Boston, he still put up solid numbers with a 35-19-1 record, .920 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average. If he's sincere about wanting to come back, he has enough talent that some team will be intrigued to give him a shot.

Something to keep in mind: Thomas returning could also put him in play for a spot in the American net at the Olympics, a very crowded competition at this point. Some speculated that could be a reason why he would want to return to the NHL in 2013-14.

This summer gets more fun by the day.

 
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