Should the Edmonton Oilers trade for Tim Thomas?

Jonathan Willis
June 08 2012 12:28PM

As has been widely reported, Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas – the two time Vezina winner, as well as the playoff MVP just one year ago – has decided to take a year off from hockey.

The problem for Boston – a contending, high-salary team – is that because Thomas’ contract is a 35+ deal, they have to absorb his cap hit whether he reports to training camp or not. Presumably, the team will attempt to trade him this summer.

The interesting this is that for a team with some distance between themselves and the salary cap, there’s no real disincentive to acquiring Thomas; they don’t have to pay him. If he holds true to his decision to take the season off, the team with his rights can simply suspend him, absorb the cap hit, and not pay out a dime.

Boston has the cap room to handle it if they absolutely need to, but presumably would prefer not to. Tuukka Rask needs a new contract this summer, a number of forwards and defensemen are entering free agency, and the club has ~$10 million in cap space to work with. With Thomas off the books, that figure jumps to ~$15 million. For a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, that’s a big improvement.

There’s another interesting wrinkle. If Thomas takes the year off, the team that holds his contract has the option of tolling it; if they chose to, Thomas’ year off would not burn the final year of his contract. The Bruins would be unlikely to do that, as Fluto Shinzawa explains:

It is hard, however, to imagine the Bruins bringing back Thomas in 2013-14. Thomas would be 39, coming off a dark season. Also, Thomas’s $5 million cap obligation for next season might leave the Bruins bosses less than eager to grant him a return. The most likely scenario is for the Bruins to allow Thomas’s contract to expire after 2012-13.

For a team with salary cap space, the calculations are different. Thomas is only paid $3.0 million in the final year of his deal, so he’s cheaper than his cap hit. He should still have value as an asset even if he chooses not to play in 2012-13. A team with cap room to burn might very well opt to toll Thomas’ contract, forcing him to choose between another year off and reporting for work.

With that taken into account, does it make sense for the Oilers to acquire Tim Thomas?

I would argue that they could do so, but it makes less sense for them than for other teams. The Oilers are not a budget club out of necessity; they are a budget club because they are rebuilding. In the summer of 2013, the contracts of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle expire. The entire blue line, save for Nick Schultz and Corey Potter, will need new contracts between now and then. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will have a single year on his deal.

In other words, while the Oilers would have no problem taking on Thomas’ cap hit this year, if they opted to toll his contract there might be negative ramifications in 2013-14. Their situation is not ideal for a long-term game of hardball.

For other teams, however, Thomas could be a real boon. The floor of the salary cap is always $16 million below the upper limit, which means every team needs to find a way to hit $54.3 million on the salary cap this summer. If Thomas plays, than they get an elite goaltender with a $5 million cap hit for $3 million dollars. If Thomas does not play, they get $5 million in bogus cap hit for nothing, and the chance to get an elite goaltender the next year for $3 million dollars (again with the $5 million cap hit). Under the current CBA, for a team like the New York Islanders or Florida Panthers, that’s a heck of a bargain.

Someone out there should be very interested in Tim Thomas. The Oilers are probably not that someone.

Thomas’ no-move clause expires on July 1.

This week by Jonathan Willis

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
Avatar
#1 mayorpoop
June 08 2012, 12:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

does he like PM Harper and what does Obama think?

Avatar
#2 mayorpoop
June 08 2012, 12:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

and NO.

Avatar
#3 mayorpoop
June 08 2012, 12:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

will they take Omarch as sufficient trade back?

Avatar
#4 mayorpoop
June 08 2012, 12:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

4 for 4?

Avatar
#5 CaptainLander
June 08 2012, 12:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

At this point all players may be taking a year off. I have little confidence that either the players or the owners will swallow their greed to satisfy fans. If this does not happen the a trade for Thomas is perfect.

Avatar
#6 Quicksilver ballet
June 08 2012, 12:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

It's thinking like this that could get you a second first round pick in return. There's more than one way to skin a cat. Hemsky in exchange for Thomas and the Bruins first rounder.

There's a whole lot of possibilities in play if you're willing to take that cap hit off the Bruins hands.

Avatar
#7 Oiler Country
June 08 2012, 12:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Lay off the sauce John..just leave it alone! We do not need a 38+ year old was decent goaltender. If age wasn't a factor, he isn't worth the month if his character is his reference.

No to Thomas, silly suggestion. Not even worth considering.

Avatar
#8 DJ Dynasty Handbag
June 08 2012, 12:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

thomas seems like a "me first" locker room cancer. isn't that why souray, moreau, etc were off-loaded? i'll pass.

Avatar
#9 Dulock
June 08 2012, 12:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I'd do it if they take Khabibulin. Tambo could use the line "sure they're both 35+ contracts but when (not if) Khabby gets hurt you can go over the cap by his contract! Everybody wins!"

Avatar
#10 Dave
June 08 2012, 12:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Oiler Country

The whole point of doing this wouldn't be to actually get Thomas back as an asset... it would be more to take the cap hit away from the Bruins which could possibly get us a better return for what we would send them in the trade.

For example, like the Dark Parade said, Hemsky for Thomas and a first round pick. Would Hemsky be enough for a first round pick? Probably not. Would Hemsky, plus the fact that we are taking a huge cap hit off of the Bruin's books? Perhaps

Avatar
#11 TrentonL
June 08 2012, 01:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

YES!

Khabibulin + Omark + conditional mid-round pick if he plays for Thomas.

Avatar
#12 dawgbone98
June 08 2012, 01:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Depends on what it nets us. Would the Bruins trade their 1st round pick either this year or next year just to have some more cap space?

If so, that's a no brainer for the Oilers. Let him sit, don't toll his contract and get a pick out of the deal.

If he decides he wants to play, bury Khabibulin in the minors and see what you can get for Thomas at the deadline.

Avatar
#13 BurkeTheTurd
June 08 2012, 01:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Problem with that is we don't need a potential decent to okay player (if bruins are top half of the league) in exchange for one of our top 6 forwards. We need to get better this year and need Hemsky or at least a player that can play and contribut immediatly.

Avatar
#14 Cody anderson
June 08 2012, 01:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I like the idea if we let him expire. I would not want his selfish attitude near our young guys. If we could get a promising asset or draft pick by doing this it would be brilliant.

It may also be a way to get rid of an ugly contract. Trade Hemsky, Horcoff, or Khabby. They all serve a purpose to an NHL team but are overpaid. If we absorb this cap hit they could have an active player with upside for close to free.

Avatar
#15 Romanus
June 08 2012, 01:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
mayorpoop wrote:

will they take Omarch as sufficient trade back?

So many people here overestimate Omark's value.

Avatar
#16 TigerUnderGlass
June 08 2012, 01:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
dawgbone98 wrote:

Depends on what it nets us. Would the Bruins trade their 1st round pick either this year or next year just to have some more cap space?

If so, that's a no brainer for the Oilers. Let him sit, don't toll his contract and get a pick out of the deal.

If he decides he wants to play, bury Khabibulin in the minors and see what you can get for Thomas at the deadline.

This, only I'd take even less. Almost any positive asset at all is worth taking the cap hit off their hands for free for a year.

Avatar
#17 TigerUnderGlass
June 08 2012, 01:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Romanus wrote:

So many people here overestimate Omark's value.

It's overestimating his value to hope to trade him for nothing but an empty cap hit?

Avatar
#18 Dman09
June 08 2012, 01:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Cody anderson wrote:

I like the idea if we let him expire. I would not want his selfish attitude near our young guys. If we could get a promising asset or draft pick by doing this it would be brilliant.

It may also be a way to get rid of an ugly contract. Trade Hemsky, Horcoff, or Khabby. They all serve a purpose to an NHL team but are overpaid. If we absorb this cap hit they could have an active player with upside for close to free.

I dont think Hemsky's contract is bad. I would hold on to him at least until the trade deadline in hopes that he can return to form. That way we should be able to get a 1st and player for him. I mean really his value can't get much lower than it is now. But if you can find a way to off load Horcoff of Bulin than I say do it if the deal makes sense.

Avatar
#19 mayorpoop
June 08 2012, 01:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Romanus

foolishly i had assumed this would not get lost on people.

i thought the spelling would be telling enough. shame.

Avatar
#20 dawgbone98
June 08 2012, 01:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Romanus

What value does Tim Thomas have? The Bruins trade him out of their conference and get a cheap option for their bottom 6 forwards. This is probably the best case scenario for them.

The Bruins will be lucky if they can trade him without having to give up a valuable asset as well.

Avatar
#21 dawgbone98
June 08 2012, 01:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

@TigerUnderGlass

Yeah, a 1st rounder is a no brainer. I'd probably take a 2nd and Thomas for a 7th kind of trade without much debate either.

Anything lower than a 2nd and I'm not sure it's worth the hassle though.

Avatar
#22 The Beaker
June 08 2012, 01:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I doubt it's worth the hassle no matter what. Based on the fact that I dont think Tambellini can pull stuff like this off.

Avatar
#23 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 08 2012, 01:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ BurkeTheTurd

Your post makes no sense.

Avatar
#24 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 08 2012, 01:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ The Beaker

I doubt Tambillini even realizes that this creates an opportunity.

Avatar
#25 BurkeTheTurd
June 08 2012, 01:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Is that so?

Avatar
#26 Archaeologuy
June 08 2012, 02:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Question is, what is 5M of Cap space worth? Bruins 2nd rounder? How much can they get for providing that kind of Cap relief?

Avatar
#27 baggedmilk
June 08 2012, 02:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Hahah man... You're right, Willis. I can see tons of teams looking to trade assets for a guy that may potentially never play another NHL game.

Then again, maybe Boston could include some magic beans and a unicorn to sweeten the deal.

Avatar
#28 ralph_u
June 08 2012, 02:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Would it get us in the conversation to get Dougie Hamilton. Then I would consider it. Obviously it would take something back from us so yes I would consider it for right package. What have bad contracts been fetching in this marketplace Jonathan?

Avatar
#29 ubermiguel
June 08 2012, 02:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

He'll never be an Oiler. Some team that's below the floor will make a better deal than the Oilers could.

Avatar
#30 jeanshorts
June 08 2012, 02:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I mean, the last time the Oilers signed a 35+ year old former cup winning goalie it worked out super well...

Avatar
#33 Brownlee loves the word meow
June 08 2012, 02:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Meow everyone collectively wish for this at 11:11PM

Horcoff, Omark, 3rd

for

Thomas, 1st, 2nd

Avatar
#34 oilersinsider
June 08 2012, 02:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

It's thinking like this that could get you a second first round pick in return. There's more than one way to skin a cat. Hemsky in exchange for Thomas and the Bruins first rounder.

There's a whole lot of possibilities in play if you're willing to take that cap hit off the Bruins hands.

Agreed, I wrote a little follow up to this piece on my site. Looking at trading for Tim Thomas in a different light.

Perhaps something the Oilers should consider.

Avatar
#35 oilersinsider
June 08 2012, 02:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
jeanshorts wrote:

I mean, the last time the Oilers signed a 35+ year old former cup winning goalie it worked out super well...

Except that in this scenario, there is no expectation this player will actually play. In fact it's more about the benefit of everything that is a side to Tim Thomas.

With Khabibulin, the expecation (and wrongly so) was that he'd be the MVP.

Whole different set for circumstances.

Avatar
#37 dawgbone98
June 08 2012, 03:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Jonathan Willis

The downside is that what if come the start of training camp Thomas decides that he does want to play?

I think if you are taking Thomas, you have to be in a situation where if he does decide to play, you don't screw yourself over.

Same with Boston. They don't want to trade him to Florida and then watch him decide to play and play 50 games for them and then play the B's in the playoffs.

Avatar
#38 LoDog
June 08 2012, 03:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Why leave out this part of the LeBrun article?

Having said all that, there will be a new CBA starting next season (whenever that is) and what that new system entails in terms of the salary cap and the payroll floor remains unclear. Not to mention the rules governing cap hits on suspended players, etc.

I'd venture the floor goes down. It is way to high for too many teams.

Avatar
#39 LoDog
June 08 2012, 03:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

To be clear, the last sentence is mine. Boldy thing didn't work.

Avatar
#40 Zamboni Driver
June 08 2012, 04:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Usually...okay sometimes a fan of Willis' work, but I wonder why anyone would read any more than the headline?

The answer is 'absolutely not'.

I think the Oilers have had their fill of old goalies.

Avatar
#41 OIL4LIFE
June 08 2012, 04:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

What does everyone think of this trade suggested at the hockey buzz. (not Eklund)

The Edmonton Oilers send the 1st overall draft pick in 2012 to the New York Islanders for their 1st overall pick in 2012 (4th overall), Ryan Strome (C) and Calvin de Haan (D).

I for one would do it if they were that dumb. lol

WOW The more I look at this, what a overpay that would be. A 4th, 5th, and a 11th overall pick for the 1st overall.

Avatar
#42 TigerUnderGlass
June 08 2012, 04:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Zamboni Driver wrote:

Usually...okay sometimes a fan of Willis' work, but I wonder why anyone would read any more than the headline?

The answer is 'absolutely not'.

I think the Oilers have had their fill of old goalies.

This is getting stupid.

Is it really so hard for people to grasp that this isn't about the player but the cap space?

Would it help if the name "Tim Thomas" was left out of the article and instead it read "rent out 5 million in cap space for a year"?

Avatar
#43 DRUDS
June 08 2012, 04:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Hey what was the other 39 year old goalie we had signed for 4 years?....oh yeah that one...maybe Thomas not such a good idea...I swear Willis you must be desperate for stuff to write about.

Avatar
#44 Quicksilver ballet
June 08 2012, 05:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@TUG

Well said Tiger.

If i can grasp it, anybody should be able to grasp this concept.....and i'm usually the last one getting on the short bus.

Avatar
#45 Shaun Doe
June 08 2012, 05:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
LoDog wrote:

Why leave out this part of the LeBrun article?

Having said all that, there will be a new CBA starting next season (whenever that is) and what that new system entails in terms of the salary cap and the payroll floor remains unclear. Not to mention the rules governing cap hits on suspended players, etc.

I'd venture the floor goes down. It is way to high for too many teams.

Further to what LoDog says quotes here, Ray Ferraro brought up this topic on the radio earlier this week. He said it was an idea that teams might entertain but would surely be shot down by the league as an obvious attempt at cap circumvention. It is painfully obvious that the team acquiring him would be looking to add cap space in the form of a player who they have no intention of icing nor does the player intend to even dress. Seems like a no go to me.

Avatar
#46 oilersplumber
June 08 2012, 05:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Dubnyk/? 2012/13 Dubnyk/Bunz 2013/14....to....?

Yes I buy the whole cap space argument too.....maybe a moot point altogether though come September....we may be having to watch the "Mentalist" with the wife for entertainment........UGH

Avatar
#47 Quicksilver ballet
June 08 2012, 05:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Shaun Doe

Think i remember Brian Burke taking 3 bodies off the Washington Capitals hands in order to manuever around the cap during this CBA already. Burke took on Ollie Kolzig was one, and a couple other players off the Caps payroll to make room for something Mcphee wanted to do. Can't remember if the Leafs got anything in return for their service to the Capitals that yr. Not sure there's anything the league can do till they close this loophole permanently.

Avatar
#48 book¡e
June 08 2012, 05:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
TigerUnderGlass wrote:

This is getting stupid.

Is it really so hard for people to grasp that this isn't about the player but the cap space?

Would it help if the name "Tim Thomas" was left out of the article and instead it read "rent out 5 million in cap space for a year"?

Why do you hate Tim Thomas so much, I think JW makes a pretty good case for a Tomas-Khabibulin duo. Tim Thomas is the Oiler's goalie of the future!!

Avatar
#49 michael
June 08 2012, 05:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

We have no cap issues. Whitney?3.5 million take it or leave it. Smid 4 million.Petry 3million. Shultz 4 million. Klefbom 995000+. Plante 850000. Teubert 950000= No problem, if you think we are going to get Justin Shultz then another 995000. So where do you see a Cap issue. Horcoff is getting paid less. Smyth is going to to try FA and that might be a good thing for the development of MP and TH. I'd be shocked if Belanger is here. Potter? Gone. Sutton gone. Peckham. Gone. Eager. Maybe here. Gagner. Gone. And probably sooner than we think. Hemsky? I would be stunned if he is here after the trade deadline this season. Heck I wouldn't be shocked if he isn't traded at the draft for late round draft pick. Especially if Yakupov is our number 1 pick. Add Bulins contract and Sourays payout and 2013-2014 looks pretty good in terms of cap space/contracts.

Avatar
#50 BlacqueJacque
June 08 2012, 06:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

You come up with some interesting ideas, Willis, but how much could we get if teams like Phoenix and the Islanders are eager to gain cap hit (without paying a dime) in order to reach the very high minimum cap this season?

Comments are closed for this article.