Tim Thomas exploring a return to NHL

Tim Thomas exploring a return to NHL
July 1, 2013, 4:30 pm
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Tim Thomas is mulling his options as he attempts to return to the NHL.

(USA Today Sports Images)

Former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas is ready to end his hiatus.

According to Thomas' agent Bill Zito, Thomas asked his representative to explore his NHL playing opportunities for the upcoming season. Thomas did not play in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, citing personal and family reasons for his time off from the game.

After carrying the Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011 and winning the Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies, Thomas and the Bruins took a step back in 2012, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Washington Capitals. He then announced just weeks later that he would be taking a year off from hockey.

The New York Islanders currently have the rights to Thomas' contract after a trade with the Bruins. The Islanders have the option to toll the contract, which was set to expire, to the 2013-2014 season since Thomas refused to report last season. His contract carries an annual cap hit of $5 million.

Thomas' decision comes on the heels of a furious weekend of activity which saw that goaltending market in the NHL settle down a bit. The Vancouver Canucks traded Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils, while Mike Smith and Sergei Bobrovsky both received contract extensions. The Kings also traded Jonathan Bernier to the Maple Leafs a few days earlier.

The remaining free agents on the market, like Thomas, are mostly veterans nearing the end of their careers. Some question how affective Thomas can be at 39 years old after taking a year off from playing. Thomas has also made headlines for his controversial political opinions, the biggest of which involved him skipping the Bruins' visit to the White House after winning the Stanley Cup.

Despite the concerns, there could be a market for Thomas. Tim Panacchio of Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia recently reported that a source close to Thomas said he is intrigued by the Philadelphia Flyers, who recently bought out Ilya Bryzgalov two years into his 9-year, $51 million contract. The Flyers are among the teams still in the market for a goalie.

If Thomas wants to play again, it might not be tough for him to find a home. It just won't be in Boston, where Tuukka Rask took the reigns and helped Boston fans move on from the opinionated netminder.