Could it be that the most overlooked goaltender in the NHL has made his critics and doubters turn a complete 180 degrees and they’re now overrating him?

Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who’s tops in the NHL in save percentage (.932) and fourth in goals-against average¬† (2.15), has obviously won a whole new bandwagon of fans with his stellar performances in the first half of the season, the All-Star Game and Tuesday night’s overtime win over Washington.

Brian Duff of The Hockey News declares today that Thomas will win the Vezina Trophy. The THN blogger then goes on to wonder what that will mean for Thomas’ value as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

MK: First off, let’s hold off on handing out year-end awards in January. Steve Mason, Evgeni Nabokov and others will have their say as the season goes on. And we have to see how Thomas handles this current stretch of games without Manny Fernandez healthy enough to spell him.

As for this offseason, it’s my educated guess that the Bruins will sign Thomas before he tests the free-agent waters, and that Thomas will be more than amenable to staying at a reasonable rate. Thomas has been embraced by the city of Boston and not only is he raising his family here, but his parents moved here as well. At 34 (35 in April), I can’t believe Thomas would want to go anywhere,¬† nor would he want to demand a contract that would handcuff the Bruins cap-wise. How about a two- or three-year deal worth around $3 mill per? Come on, get it done.