Good fits for Thomas should he return to NHL

Last year's Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas clinched his seventh career playoff shutout last night, however it wasn't exactly his most difficult outting. In a game that was ultimately decided in overtime, the Capitals still managed a dismal net shot total of 17, making it relatively easy for Thomas to get the shutout.

Going into this off-season, there appears to be several good goaltenders that are or could be on the market. We are talking about the likes of Roberto Luongo, Ryan Miller, Ilya Bryzgalov and maybe even this year’s Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky.

One goaltender’s name that we do not seem to hear a lot about is Tim Thomas. Remember him? He is the guy that has a Stanley Cup (2011), a Conn Smythe Trophy (2011) and two Vezina Trophies to his name (2009 and 2011).

After taking this past season off to spend more time with his family, there are reports that he might attempt to come back and play next season. As of this moment, his rights are with the New York Islanders.

If Thomas decides to return to the NHL next season, here are some teams that could use his services:

New York Islanders

Why not play with the team that currently owns your contract?

As of right now, the Islanders’ goaltending situation is not quite clear. No one knows whether or not the team will re-sign Evgeni Nabokov or whether back-up Kevin Poulin has the goods to get the job done in the NHL as a starter.

The Islanders, a playoff team for the first time since the 2006-07 season, are improving and are once again relevant in the league. If Thomas goes to Long Island, he might be able to provide even more star power to the Islanders and make them a consistent playoff contender for the next few seasons.

Columbus Blue Jackets

As mentioned above, Bobrovsky may not be returning to the Blue Jackets this season because a new contract has yet to be reached and also because he is being courted by the Kontinental Hockey League.

The Blue Jackets just missed the playoffs this past season but with an established veteran NHL goaltender between the pipes that might change come next season. Thomas is a netminder who could help get the team back into the post-season and make them a club to be feared in the Western Conference.

With John Davidson in the organization as the team president of hockey operations, Thomas may be able to get a new lease of life when it comes to playing the game and playing with the passion and determination that helped him win the Cup in 2011 with the Boston Bruins.

Philadelphia Flyers

With Bryzgalov out of the picture and a young Steve Mason still trying to prove himself at the NHL level, the Flyers might be a good fit for Thomas.

After missing the postseason last year, the Flyers need a goaltender who knows how to win and knows how to play well consistently. The team also needs a goaltender that just goes out and does his job.

While Thomas has done some questionable things off the ice, his antics are not as wacky as Bryzgalov’s and when it comes to being consistent between the pipes, Thomas did that with regularity while with the Bruins.

Calgary Flames

With Miikka Kiprusoff leaning towards retirement, the Calgary Flames may need to find themselves a number one goaltender.

If Kiprusoff retires, that will leave the Flames with Joey MacDonald and Karri Ramo to man the pipes. While MacDonald is an experienced NHL backup and Ramo has had a lot of success overseas, who knows if either one of them can be the main man in goal for the Flames next season.

While Calgary may be too far west for Thomas, it might be a good option for him if he is serious about returning to the NHL.

Phoenix Coyotes

With current Coyotes’ netminder Mike Smith’s status up in the air due to the team’s ownership obstacles and his impending UFA status, the number one goaltending role might open up for Thomas.

If the Coyotes end up staying in Phoenix, there will not be a lot of pressure on Thomas as the team does not get a ton of media coverage nor is the club expected to win the Cup any time soon.

Phoenix might be a good place for Thomas to re-establish his game and focus on getting back to the way he played prior to sitting out this past season.

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