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Thomas is a smart gamble for Panthers

Sep 16, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT

Boston Bruins Victory Parade Getty Images

If the Florida Panthers do as they’re expected and sign goalie Tim Thomas to a professional tryout, they’ll be adding a two-time Vezina Trophy recipient with a .921 career NHL save percentage who’s only a couple of years removed from leading the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The question, of course, is if he’s still that same goalie at 39 years old and after taking a year off. Which is why the Panthers were loathe to give him a guaranteed contract.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say he’s still a pretty good goalie. (If he’s not, he just won’t play.) If he’s still a pretty good goalie, Panthers fans should be extremely excited at this news — particularly after the goaltending they saw from their team last season.

In 2013, Florida ranked dead last in the NHL in save percentage, with Jacob Markstrom, Jose Theodore, and Scott Clemmensen combining for an .887 mark in that category. In contrast, the Ottawa Senators finished with a league-high .933 save percentage.

Goaltending matters. A lot. Proof: of the 10 teams with the highest save percentages in 2013, only Columbus and Edmonton missed the playoffs. And of the 10 teams with the lowest save percentages, only the Islanders made the playoffs.

Still not convinced? When the Panthers made the playoffs in 2011-12 (after missing them for 10 straight seasons), their team save percentage was .914, tied for ninth in the NHL.

Again, this isn’t to say Thomas is still the goalie he used to be. We’ll just have to wait and see about that. For the Panthers, though, it’s definitely worth a gamble to find out.

  1. amityvillefun - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    “Hey Tuukka? Can you win one without me or do you need to ride my coat-tails to get it?”

    Welcome back to the NHL Timmy. Make sure you got Luongo on speed dial because you will need a lot of tire pumping playing in Florida!

  2. canucks30 - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:51 AM

  3. blomfeld - Sep 16, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Welcome Back Friend !

    As Martha Stewart would say, it’s a ‘good’ thing having Tim Thomas back in the league! He’s extremely talented, highly accomplished, very colorful and a ‘tad’ nuts, which is everything you could ever want in a player ! Besides, a whole city went up in flames two years ago, in large part thanks to his stellar play … now you can’t say that about too many players eh ? :) My only knock on the guy was his shunning of President Obama, though perhaps he’ll make it up to him at some point ? … I hope so.

    ps: this could just be a ‘stop-gap’ measure before the Panthers sign Luongo next summer ?

    • ejbigg - Sep 16, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      “Sign” Luongo?

    • yustasayin - Sep 16, 2013 at 8:11 PM

      First it was “before the season starts” now “it’s next summer”…..seems your crystal is a little cloudy!

  4. bauxjangles - Sep 16, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Is it really gambling when they have nothing to lose?

  5. girouxed - Sep 16, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    rock on timmy thomas..!

  6. bosoxfan15 - Sep 16, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Thomas took a year off and he is old. His reaction time is going to be way off. Good luck Florida.

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