The Tuukka Rask Era begins in earnest in Boston with veteran goaltender Tim Thomas deciding to take next season off while pondering his future.
The transition may have been inevitable, given the slippage Thomas suffered this season. By opting to sit out, Thomas saves the Bruins $3 million in payroll.
He still counts $5 million against the salary cap, however, due to the front-loading of his four-year, $20 million contract. This raised an obvious question:
Would Boston move Thomas to a team looking to reach the salary cap floor by taking on a one-year contract commitment it doesn’t actually have to pay?
The Hockey News noted that such a bookkeeping maneuver would clear $5 million in cap space for Boston. The team acquiring the rights to Thomas would be able to terminate him after the season without owing him a dime for 2013-14.
Thomas has no-trade protection, but that expires July 1.
As THN noted, if Thomas changed his mind and decided to play in 2012-13, his new team would be getting him for $3 million – a modest price for a proven netminder.
So Boston has every motivation to move the rights to Thomas and gain the flexibility to trade for pricey Blue Jackets power forward Rick Nash or bid on free agents. Rask is ready to start and Anton Khudobin is ready to graduate into the back-up role.