The Tim Thomas Era is now finally, officially over for the Boston Bruins.
The 38-year-old goaltender was traded to the New York Islanders on Thursday afternoon for a conditional second-round pick in either 2014 or 2015 that will go back to Boston if Thomas reports for hockey duty on Long Island.
If Thomas continues his current sabbatical from the NHL, then the Bruins will receive nothing in compensation. They will, however, get a welcome 5 million in salary cap relief.
The Isles were one of the few teams flirting with going under the salary-cap floor, and seem to have acquired Thomas for his 5 million cap hit rather than his Vezina Trophy winning goalie skills.
If Thomas does decide to play, then the Bruins have dealt the goalie to one of the least-desirable landing spots in the NHL; the Islanders have been a perpetual Eastern Conference punching bag for years. That would be a bizarre end to a strange last couple of seasons for Thomas, who was on top of the world two years ago while putting up one of the best seasons an NHL goaltender has ever produced.
Thomas set the NHL record for save percentage, captured his second Vezina Trophy, and won the Conn Smythe Trophy en route to Bostons first Stanley Cup championship since 1972. But last season he opted to skip a team event in January at the White House honoring their Cup achievement, and it was a steady downhill slide after that until Thomas announced on Facebook that he was looking to skip the entire 2012-13 NHL season.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli indicated in training camp that Thomas had expressed interest in returning to play the 2013-14 season and has long held an interest in participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics for Team USA. But there were strong indications from the Bruins that Thomas would never again don a Bruins sweater after the way last season ended.
Meanwhile, with Thomas' contract is off the books, if the Bruins move Marc Savard to long-term injured reserve, the team will have 9 million in cap space saved. That kind of available money could make the Bruins big players at the NHL trade deadline in April if the right piece becomes available.
Chiarelli has a 6:15 p.m. conference call scheduled with the media to discuss the deal.