Thomas/By S. Bradley

Inside the Den is a new feature that will be appear on TheBruinsBlog.net periodically to address issues/news with the team and look at the organization as a whole.

I wanted to use to space to clear up maybe the biggest misconception swirling around the Bruins right about now.

This idea that the better Tim Thomas plays the more tradeable he becomes is preposterous.

Regardless of how many post-to-post diving stops he makes or shutouts he posts, Thomas is still in the same position he was over the summer: in possession of a no-movement clause and a $5 million per year contract that runs through the end of the 2012-13 season. All the glove and pads saves in the world can’t change that.

You can make the case that should the Bruins determine Thomas will be nothing more than a part-time or half-time goaltender, and should they relay this information to him, and should he decide that he wants more playing time elsewhere, maybe (maybe) he would waive that no-movement clause in order to get to greener pastures.

Of course, good luck to general manager Peter Chiarelli in his pursuit of value in a trade when Thomas is calling the shots about his new destination and teams are still subscribing to this notion that you can be a Stanley Cup contender without a big-time, high-priced goaltender. In the post-Blackhawks championship world, this is known as the “Niemi Effect.”

The options for a trade partner, however, won’t be limited just by Thomas’ whims and fancies. There’s also the matter of that his enormous salary in a cap league, where the teams that can spend to the cap already are and the teams that are well below the cap are there for a reason. Over the summer, when teams were wheeling and dealing and allocating portions of their cap to certain players, there were very few teams that could’ve even considered a trade for Tim Thomas. Now that the season has started, arguably no team would be able to add Thomas to their cap or cash payroll.

Boston’s only chance to move Thomas would be a catastrophic injury to another team’s No. 1 netminder. That team would have to be willing to add to its payroll – not just for this season but for the next two years – and believe in Thomas as the guy to step in and hold up down the stretch. But don’t dream of getting one of those stud puck-moving defensemen the Bruins are always coveting. Getting even a respectable prospect or draft pick for Thomas in the league’s current climate would be difficult.

After playing a full season at full health and putting up numbers through 82 games similar to what he done in his first four starts, Thomas might become a coveted player to a team desperate to make a big splash in the summertime. But for now, Thomas is the Bruins’ $5 million No. 1A goaltender to Tuukka Rask’s No. 1B, and the odds of that changing over the duration of the 2010-11 campaign are about the same as Gary Bettman allowing the NHL to contract.

Oh, what could’ve been

We were all impressed with Shawn Thornton’s courage in taking on New York Rangers giant Derek Boogaard Saturday night at TD Garden. While the bout was mildly entertaining, it wasn’t worth the price of admission – especially considering what the Bruins could’ve wrought that night. Had head coach Claude Julien dressed Brian McGrattan, a clash of the titans might’ve ensued.

Here’s a look at a couple of Boogaard-McGrattan bouts to give you a taste of what we missed:

Down on the farm

Providence bounced back from an 0-2-1 weekend with a win in its lone game of this weekend, 4-3, Saturday at Worcester. Jamie Arniel scored twice, including the game-winner in overtime. He now shares the team lead for goals with three with Max Sauve. Joe Colborne and Zach Hamill are still in search of their first goal after six games. For those looking for defensive help in the absence of Johnny Boychuk with the parent club, Steve Kampfer leads the P-Bruins with five points (one goal) and has posted a plus-3. Matt Bartkowksi has registered one assist and a minus-2.

Prospect update

It was a nice weekend for Clarkson’s Ben Sexton, Boston’s seventh-round pick (206 overall) in 2009. He scored his first NCAA goal in a win over Bentley Friday and added a second goal in a tie the next night.

Looking forward

The Bruins play two games this week – Thursday at home against Toronto and Saturday at Ottawa. How Bruins head coach Claude Julien divvies up the goaltending duties will be interesting. In his brief NHL career, Rask is 4-1-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average against Toronto. Thomas has dominated Ottawa with a 16-7-2 record and 2.09 GAA and has been almost unbeatable at ScotiaBank Place. But Thomas hasn’t been as sharp against the Leafs with a 14-4-3 record and 2.98 GAA.