|Could Leighton signing close door on Thomas?||06.30.10 at 4:50 pm ET|
Though we’ve been hearing all along that the Tim Thomas-to-Philadelphia rumors have been overblown, maybe today’s news that the Flyers have re-signed Michael Leighton will make such chatter a little less believable — for now, at least.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported the Flyers gave Leighton a two-year deal for $3.1 million total, and while that isn’t a lot, McKenzie tweeted that, “Whatever happens with [Flyers] goaltending, the next guy in won’t be making more than $2M per year.” Evgeni Nabokov whom the Flyers recently traded for the rights of, is likely their No. 1 option, but all indications are he will test free agency on Thursday.
Brian Boucher is also under contract for next season and carries a cap hit of less than $1 million. Thomas is owed $5 million for each of the next three seasons.
|Gagne for Thomas? ‘No.’||06.25.10 at 4:32 pm ET|
Amidst rumors that the Flyers are looking to shed payroll in order to take on Tim Thomas‘ contract, a source close to the situation is saying talk that Simon Gagne could be swapped to the Bruins for the goaltender is bogus.
“This is not an accurate rumor at all,” the source said.
Salary-wise, it makes sense, as Gagne will carry a $5.25 million cap hit next season, the final year of his deal, while Thomas has three years remaining at $5 million per season. On the ice, however, such a move could upset Flyers fans. Gagne can be counted on for 30 goals a season and is just 30 years old, while Thomas, 36, lost his starting job last season to Tuukka Rask.
The left-winger made a major impression on the Bruins in the postseason this past postseason, scoring in overtime in Game 4, adding two goals in Game 5, and slipping the series-winning goal past Rask in the third period of Game 7.
Gagne was hampered by groin injuries throughout the season and was limited to 58 games. He scored 17 goals and had 23 assists for 40 points after having 34-40-74 totals a year prior.
|Report: Tampa can’t afford Thomas||at 2:56 pm ET|
Tim Thomas, who has been given permission by the Bruins to talk with other teams about a trade, may not be a fit for one of his most logical suitors. According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, a Tampa Bay source does not believe the Lightning could add Thomas’ $5 million salary for the next three seasons without shedding payroll. LeBrun says in a tweet that a move to the Lightning “doesn’t look like a fit right now.”
The Sharks and Flyers have also been rumored as potential suitors for Thomas. Tampa Bay has over $23 million in cap space, but only 13 players under contract at the NHL level.
|Thomas chatter continues||06.24.10 at 4:08 pm ET|
All indications out of California say that Bill Zito, the agent for Tim Thomas, has been cleared to talk shop with other teams regarding a new home for the goaltender. The story was first reported by TSN and it makes all the sense in the world, given the Bruins’ tight salary cap situation and Thomas’ $5 million cap hit for the next three seasons.
It is unknown which teams may be in on Thomas, though the Lightning have been rumored to be one of them. A source told WEEI.com earlier this week that the Flyers were not among those interested. Thomas’ no-trade clause doesn’t figure to be an issue in a potential deal, as the ’08-’09 Vezina winner’s ultimate goal is to start, which he wouldn’t do in Boston due to Tuukka Rask‘s stranglehold on the job.
|Source: Thomas not on Philly’s radar||06.22.10 at 4:59 pm ET|
Rumors that have linked the Flyers to the Bruins in recent trade discussions might be just that, according to a source close to the situation. Though the Bruins have been shopping Tim Thomas, the goaltender is “not on [Philadelphia’s] radar,” said the source. Thomas, who carries a $5 million salary cap hit will be a little easier to take on for interested teams with Tuesday’s news that the NHLPA has exercised an inflator clause to bump the salary cap up to about $59 million.
|Thomas says it is ‘too early’ to dwell on offseason||05.18.10 at 12:21 pm ET|
Bruins goaltender and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas spoke about his upcoming role on the team after having been usurped for the No. 1 spot in the crease by rookie Tuukka Rask in the second half of the 2009-10 season. Thomas signed a four-year $20 million contract extension last summer and has a no-trade clause in his contract though the speculation is that general manager Peter Chiarelli will have no choice but to try and move Thomas’s contract. Thomas said on Tuesday morning that there are questions that he needs to answer but it is still “too early” to start coming to any conclusions.
“Too early. Those kind of thoughts are something that need to be thought over carefully and over a longer period of time and I haven’t had the luxury of doing that yet,” Thomas said. “Even if you are not playing at the end of the year you are still practicing with the team, you are still trying to get yourself in a position where you could help the team if you are called upon. So, I was busy doing that stuff and not thinking about, or at least coming to conclusions on the things you guys are asking me about. Of course they have crossed my mind because I am human and they have to, you know.”
Thomas said that he just has not had any time between the Game 7 loss last Friday and Tuesday morning to figure out how he wants to deal with the offseason.
“It is so early after the end of the season that I haven’t took the time yet. We have had these end of the year meetings, get our equipment, we have had some other activities. Over the next month I will let things kind of settle in my mind and come up with some of that stuff later, but not yet,” Thomas said.
Thomas also said that the 2009-10 season was a unique experience in his professional career. Coming from being the top goaltender on the best team in the Eastern Conference and watching his team, and his job, dissipate would be unique for any player.
“It was certainly different than any other experience I have had as a pro,” Thomas said. “It was challenging, you go through these types of situations and years and you just have to try and find the lessons out of them and find a way to make yourself a better pro goaltender and a better person.”
|Playoff matchups: Bruins vs. Sabres||04.11.10 at 9:59 pm ET|
Coming off a 4-3 overtime victory against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals on Sunday, the Bruins can at the very least take momentum into their first-round matchup beginning Thursday at HSBC Arena against the third-seeded Sabres. Claude Julien’s squad took the season series from Buffalo, 4-2, but shouldn’t get too ahead of themselves considering they are sending a lackluster offense up against perhaps the league’s best goalie in the playoff-tested Ryan Miller.
The Bruins’ offense wasn’t expected to be what it was a year ago, but between the Phil Kessel trade, the Marc Savard injury and a collection of stars from the ‘08-‘09 team falling back to earth, the team scored just 193 goals and boasted the league’s worst offense and the only squad to fall short of 200 goals. Such a statistic is far from encouraging for a team that’s set to play at least the next four against Miller.
Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Zdeno Chara led the Bruins in points with 52, 52, and 44, respectively, but the team had just one 20-goal scorer in the form of Marco Sturm (21). For the sake of comparison, the Bruins had six players with at least 50 points and six with 20 goals (Kessel led the Bruins with 36) a season ago.
Left wing Thomas Vanek, who scored four goals against the Senators Saturday, is the Sabres’ biggest scoring threat, as the 26-year-old led the team with 26 goals in the regular season. Derek Roy (26), Jason Pomenville (24), and Jochen Hect (21) followed, with Roy leading the Sabres in points with 68.
Much of this depends on Mark Stuart‘s hopeful return from pinky surgery. Stuart could be back for the third game of the series, but even so the Bruins are the better defensive team. Though there has been fluctuation in the pairings, Zdeno Chara (plus-23) with Dennis Wideman imposes a strong enough presence to make the series a struggle for the Sabres offensively. The Bruins captain is unquestionably the elite defenseman in the series, though Sabres rookie Tyler Myers (plus-13) was more than impressive in the regular season and played in all 82 games.
The matchup of the two leaders in both GAA and save percentage is what should make this such an exciting series. One glance at the numbers of Rask (1.97 GAA, .931 save percentage) and Miller ( GAA, save percentage) and it’s no wonder that November 2nd’s 4-2 Bruins victory (which Miller didn’t start) was the highest-scoring affair between the two teams all season. Between Miller’s 34 career playoff games and the fact that he started 29 more games this season than Rask’s 39. Miller may slightly trail Rask statistically, but the NHL playoffs have always been about goaltending and Miller’s 2.40 career playoff GAA is proof enough that springtime puck doesn’t faze him.
How Claude Julien manages the goaltending in the playoffs will be something to watch. At times during which Rask appeared to be the hot hand and seemed to have earned the starting job, Tim Thomas continued to get frequent starts. Rask has to be the man for the Bruins, as goaltending tandems have historically failed teams in the playoffs.
The Bruins prided themselves on their penalty kill during the regular season, finishing third in penalty kill efficiency with 88.25 penalty kill percentage. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for anyone embracing the potential offensive stalemate this series could be, the Sabres led the NHL with an 89.08 penalty kill percentage.
The Sabres are also the superior team on the power play, as their 17.62 power play percentage bests the Bruins’ 16.41. The Bruins finished the season 24th in the category. Mark Recchi had eight power play goals for the Bruins in the regular season, while Michael Ryder, Krejci, and Savard each notched six. Roy and Vanek led the Sabres with 10 apiece.
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