Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/17/14

Tim Thomas has officially returned to the NHL by signing a one-year contract with the Florida Panthers. In a statement from the team, general manager Dale Tallon said that “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.” Thomas controversially decided not to play in the lockout-shortened 2013 season even though he was still under contract with the Boston Bruins. The Original Six club traded him to the New York Islanders in February. In his last full NHL season (2011-12), Thomas went 35-19-1 with a 2.36 GAA and a .920 save percentage for the Bruins. Even if the 39-year-old doesn’t play at the same elite level we saw from him in Boston, he will still be a strong addition to a Panthers club that ranked 30th in goals against and penalty-killing last season. Thomas will likely split time with 23-year-old netminder Jacob Markstrom, who represents the Panthers’ future at the position. Pairing him with a veteran that has championship experience should help accelerate his development. Florida opens up the regular season on Oct. 3 in Dallas. The team’s first game in Boston is on Nov. 7. Filed under: Florida Panthers, Headlines, NHL, Nick Goss

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