News: Islanders Acquire Tim Thomas

Update, 7:30pm: Katie Strang tweets: “Snow said that, to his knowledge, Thomas is still in Colorado and has not been skating”

The Islanders have acquired Tim Thomas from the Bruins for a conditional second rounder in 2014 or 2015.

The Bruins suspended Thomas because he did not want to play this season.

Thomas, 38, has a cap hit of $5 million and a contract that is set to expire after this season.

The league has confirmed to Islanders Point Blank that the trade has been approved.

Arthur Staple notes that the move is salary cap related as the Islanders needed to make sure that they are over the cap floor. GM Garth Snow tells Staple that “this move gives us roster flexibility.” He also says that the 2nd-rounder is conditional on Tim Thomas playing at least 1 game for #Isles.

Bob McKenzie adds in multiple tweets:

“The Boston Bruins only get a draft pick from the Islanders for Tim Thomas if he reports to them or any other team if NYI trade his rights… Otherwise, the benefit for BOS is gaining cap space Thomas was eating up because he’s on a 35+ contract. Counts against cap no matter what… Which is ideal for NYI. No acquisition price. NYI can toll contract to next year if they like, continue to get cap benefit in perpetuity… Or NYI can let contract expire at end of season and be done with it. Their call. Thomas has no intent to return to play at this time.”

Kevin Schultz

This move certainly creates the flexibility that Snow mentioned in the quote above. If the Islanders are trying to make a move to improve the team, especially after this hot start, this is one interesting way to do it. The Islanders, always cutting it close to the cap floor, can now move players without having concerns about needing to match or replace salary. Whether that flexibility is as simple as risking losing Jeff Finley through waivers or more complex, such as a trade, we won’t know until it happens.

While this move could imply another move forthcoming, it would also add some fuel to the fire for fans who believe the Islanders are simply trying to save money. It seems as though this would be a move to cut salary in terms of actual dollars paid out, since the team will not be paying Thomas a dime unless he shows up to play.

If the Islanders were worried about taking on more salary in a trade this move might not be necessary. But, if the Islanders were in danger of dropping below the cap floor, acquiring cap dollars was certainly a necessity. After seeing the penalty the Devils took for Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract, going above or below the cap is something no team should try to do. This could come in handy if the Islanders are out of the race and selling their veterans at the trade deadline.

Either way, if Thomas ever does come back to play, he’s a playable or tradeable asset for the team. Until then, he’s a cap asset.