While various reports Saturday said that Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has waived his no-trade clause, it looked like one goalie-hunting team was more interested in another netminder by the time Day Two of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft ended.
And no on could blame Philadelphia for being more interested in Evgeni Nabokov than Thomas.
Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com reported last evening that the Flyers have a verbal agreement with San Jose, which will allow the Flyers to speak with the agent for Nabokov in exchange for compensation should the goaltender sign with Philadelphia before he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. Last week, the Sharks announced they would not re-sign Nabokov and then spent big money to bring back Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski.
While Thomas and Nabokov are close in age (Thomas is 36, Nabokov will be 35) and in performance the last few years (except when Thomas was relegated to backup status in 2009-10), there are several solid reasons for the Flyers to be more interested in the Russian over the American.
Obviously, any time you can dictate the terms of a contract, and not surrender an asset to acquire a player of Nabokov’s caliber, you do it. Nabokov might cost Philly more than the $5 million per season Thomas would, but with Thomas coming off offseason hip surgery and a a season which featured him on the bench more often, there are less question marks about Nabokov’s ability to step in on a team that’s counting on being in the Stanley Cup chatter.
The Flyers, if they even like Thomas (as has been reported), also are probably less interested because of their inability to get a trade done with the Bruins, who should not take on much salary in exchange for Thomas. Moving Thomas, who would be an above-average backup to Tuukka Rask if he stayed, should be for the purpose of clearing space to get Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler, Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin signed, plus make one more addition on the wing and leave some wiggle room under the cap to better be able to improve during the season or at the trade deadline. With the Flyers’ cap situation, they’d have to move some salary to fit Thomas. That would mean getting a third team involved, or the Bruins taking a player they really don’t want.
It’s a pipe dream to think Jeff Carter would be in play. Plus, he comes with more problems than solutions. He makes $5 million and will be a restricted free agent next summer. He’s a natural center who looked kind of lost playing the wing in the playoffs. Adding Daniel Briere or Simon Gagne, two players with talent but with soft reputations that wouldn’t fly very well in Boston, would mean adding to Boston’s cap burden. Briere is a cap hit of $6.5 million (credit CapGeek.com). That would make him Boston second-highest paid player. That wouldn’t exactly send a great message to Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, as they get ready to enter the final season of their deals with Boston and negotiate contract extensions.
If things don’t work out with Nabokov, the Flyers have several other options that also would come at the cost of just a contract, and not a trade asset. With Jose Theodore, Chris Mason, Dan Ellis and Marty Turco expected to be on the market, I wouldn’t count on the Flyers going hot and heavy after Thomas any time soon.