Doubting Tim Thomas and the Blackhawks' goalie needs

The notion that Tim Thomas(notes) could go from Vezina Trophy to trade bait for goal-scoring help is jarring.

Not in the sense that Tuukka Rask(notes) would have won the job, because he's earned it and it was going to happen eventually. Rather, in the sense that they'd be able to actually move an old (in hockey years) goalie with a four-year, guaranteed contract worth $20 million and a pesky a no-trade clause.

But that was the speculation from Malkin To The Kings over the weekend in the Ottawa Sun, citing "two league executives" as confirming that Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli "has held talks with teams looking for goaltending help." From the Sun:

If Thomas were to waive his clause, his reasonable $5-million cap hit through the 2011-12 season would make him attractive on the trade market.

What isn't so attractive is Thomas' lacklustre 13-15-7 record, with a 2.52 GAA to go with a .915 save percentage. Last season when he won the Vezina, Thomas posted a 36-11-7 record with a 2.10 GAA and a .933 save percentage.

The Blackhawks are likely to add a goalie by the March 3 trade deadline. They'd have to bury goalie Cristobal Huet(notes) and his $5.625-million cap hit in the minors to make a Thomas deal work, but there is a sense GM Stan Bowman is willing to do it if it improves Chicago's chances to winning the Stanley Cup.

Tim Thomas may have a "reasonable cap hit," but it's impossible to divorce that from the ancillary stuff: A guaranteed contract that Mirtle correctly noted could be an albatross by 2011; stats that were unquestionably bolstered by the execution of Claude Julien's system last season and then suffered when the team's system did; and the fact that he's a 35-year-old goalie who needs to be in a platoon.

Bruins writers like Joe Haggerty of CSNNE aren't fans of the Thomas contract to the point where a trade seems justified. But Kevin Paul Dupont said a Thomas trade is "next to nil" thanks to that very contract, and because the Bruins haven't asked him to waive his no-trade clause.

Now watch him find his mojo in Vancouver and make this entire scenario disappear ...

The other facet of the Sun's report is spot-on: The Chicago Blackhawks' search for another goaltender. Do they need one from the outside to win the Cup?

Neither Cristobal Huet nor Antti Niemi(notes) have given the Blackhawks too much of a reason for concern behind one of the best defensive teams in hockey. Niemi's been downright stellar, with a 1.93 GAA. Huet's been a whipping boy, but he hasn't been an anchor on their success.

But those goalies haven't done it in the postseason, which is evidently a problem for those unwilling to give them a chance to prove they can. We count Blackhawks management among those, actually, and believe they're going to push for a veteran goalie with playoff experience at the deadline. Although we agree with Al Cimaglia of Hockey Independent that it won't be for a goalie that demands a big return from the Blackhawks via a trade:

So Bowman goes out and acquires Thomas, at $5 million per season for the next three years. Then somehow Huet's $5.6 million cap hit over the next two seasons disappears to the AHL or parts unknown.

The logic would be the high priced Thomas is a better fit for the Blackhawks than Huet, even though his contract term is longer. Not to mention he hasn't set the world on fire this year either.

As the column states... there is a sense Stan Bowman would be willing to do just that....meaning to supposedly acquire Thomas. I have a strong feeling Bowman would rather spend his time on a street in Manhattan waiting for a space ship.

The last Chicago goalie rumor of the weekend involves the Hawks interest in Montreal's Jaroslav Halak(notes).

This is a reoccurring story which has little chance of happening during this season. This one is almost as improbable as the Thomas to the Hawks rumor, but not quite as unbelievable. Throw those two rumors in the same pile as the Kovalchuk to the Blackhawks trade scenario.

The 'Hawks don't want to break up the roster before the playoffs. That was telegraphed in their apparent apathy towards a Kovalchuk trade. So it won't be Thomas, and it won't be Halak.

Might it be Dwayne Roloson(notes) of the New York Islanders, with Huet disappearing in the minors? The price would be right, the Islanders might deal and lord knows the dude has seen playoff pressure before. Whatever the choice, Chicago's in the goalie market and, with few other teams in a position of need, it's a buyer's market.

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