Tim Thomas' decision to take a year off from hockey back in June has had repercussions since then on many levels: fans like me have reacted in various ways to his renewed love for Facebook, the Boston Bruins didn't make many offseason moves due in part to his $5 million cap hit and some have wondered if he could be traded or just choose to retire.
Now Bruins principal and alternate governor Charlie Jacobs, the son of team owner Jeremy Jacobs, has weighed in and he thinks the market is such that Thomas could still be traded. Yes, even with the specter of a possible lockout (say it isn't so--we fans want hockey!) hanging overhead, even with uncertainty about how salary floors and caps will look in the future, Jacobs still believes there could be an opening.
He told Boston's WEEI radio station in an interview that he knows Thomas will do whatever he wants to do. That's kind of obvious at this point, really. But he said he could see a team making a trade for Thomas to get that $5 million cap hit on their payroll and try to hit the salary floor.
As strange as it may sound, there are teams that could be willing to welcome a player who will not even play next year just for the sake of balance sheets. CapGeek, which keeps very up-to-date lists of payrolls and new deals, ranks all 30 teams in terms of payroll. The Bruins top the list with a payroll of nearly $69 million, very close to the $70.2 million ceiling. At the very bottom are the Phoenix Coyotes, a team still working to resolve its ownership issues.
Other teams with lots of monetary wiggle room, though, include the New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers. All of these teams have at least $16 million in available cap space, so they'd still have a nice little bit left after taking on Thomas' deal.
Of course, the fact that some teams might want to deliberately put a non-playing player on the payroll is strange, but to Jacobs, so is the decision that Thomas made in the first place. He points out the obvious: by the time Thomas' hiatus year has ended, he will be nearly 40 years old. After a year off, Jacobs isn't sure how he could come back and play at an NHL level, though he does leave the door open for Thomas to, well, prove people wrong.
I am personally unsure of what could happen--there are uncertainties in the entire league right now that overshadow one single unusual player's case--but at this point, nothing Thomas does really surprises me anymore, so another offseason surprise with him could be coming!
Emma Harger is a Boston Bruins fan who is really big on hockey stat websites like CapGeek; never any great shakes at math in school, all of a sudden, numbers are fun again for her--so long as they're related to the game.