Tim Thomas signs one-year deal with Panthers, officially ends year of living Freely

Considering the mediocre goaltending the Florida Panthers have had for the past few years, you knew it wasn't going to take much for Tim Thomas to impress them on his professional tryout. But he didn't just coast over the low, low bar -- Thomas really impressed in his bid to return to the NHL, and as a result, his year of living Freely is over. Timmy's back.

On Thursday, the Panthers announced a one-year deal for the former Bruin that will pay him a base salary of $2.5M but a cap hit of $3.75M due to performance bonuses, according to Bob McKenzie. From the Panthers:

Florida Panthers Executive VP/General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that the club has agreed to terms with G Tim Thomas on a one-year contract.

“Tim is a proven winner who we are pleased to have signed,” said Tallon. “He is a fierce competitor who brings to our club a wealth of experience including a Stanley Cup Championship, two Vezina trophies and a Conn Smythe. He is a hardworking, driven and dedicated individual who will help our club achieve future success.”

Truthfully, I was disappointed that Thomas didn't make the announcement himself on Facebook. But that's okay.

Thomas and Florida are a natural fit. The Panthers can use him too.

With the signing, Thomas takes over as the starter, meaning the Jakob Markstrom era will have to wait. Markstrom will begin the year as the backup with Scott Clemmensen rehabbing his knee in the AHL. And when Clemmensen returns from injury, Tallon says the two will battle for the backup job.

In other words, Markstrom had better nail his rare starts from here on out, or he'll be spending the rest of the year in the minors.

Enough about those two guys, though. Thomas is the focus here, just as he will be on October 17, when the Bruins visit the Panthers for the first time, and more importantly, November 7, when the Panthers hit the TD Garden. As Tuukka Rask joked, that game is going to be a “media debacle.”