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Boston's Re-Signing of Tim Thomas Ruins Free Agent Market

Apr 3, 2009 – 1:50 PM
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Adam Gretz

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The Boston Bruins reached an agreement with starting netminder Tim Thomas on Friday, signing the 34-year-old to a three-year extension that is believed to be worth "around $5 million per year," according to Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe.

Thomas currently leads the league in goals against average and save percentage after being tied for the fifth best save percentage in the NHL a season ago, so it's certainly a great deal for the Bruins. That said, it's bad news for the number of teams around the league in need of a starting goalie heading into the offseason.

Aside from being eligible for free agency on July 1, the Bruins also felt pressured to get the deal done due to Thomas' age and how it plays into the current CBA. From Dupont:
When a player signs a new deal after his 35th birthday, per the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), although he can be bought out (at a two-thirds reduction in pay), his cap number can not be deleted from the club's salary commitments. For next year, and for either two or three more years, Thomas will be on Boston's books for some $5 million a year. But because he has signed the deal before age 35, the Bruins have the safeguard -- that they would want to execute it -- to be able to buy him out at any time, cut their dollar commitment by one-third, and be able to spread the payments over twice the remaining term of the deal. It is a significant safeguard.
With Thomas' deal complete, combined with the extension that Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom signed in early March, the upcoming crop of free agents between the pipes certainly leaves a lot to be desired. Unless you're willing to take a chance on guys like Dwayne Roloson, Andrew Raycroft or Nikolai Khabibulin. Tough luck, Toronto and Philadelphia. Actually, the most intriguing name out there might be Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen, who is set to become a restricted free agent.

Originally a ninth-round draft pick of the Quebec Nordiques in 1994, Thomas played several several seasons in Eurpose, as well as the East Coast Hockey League and American Hockey League, before finally getting his chance in the NHL during the 2005-06 campaign. He's posted a 106-73 record with Boston, to go along with a .918 save percentage.
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