Tim Thomas says he is 'ahead of schedule' after May 21 hip surgery

timthomasprogress.jpgWhile he was usurped by Finnish sensation Tuukka Rask, I think that Tim Thomas was better during the 2009-10 season than most people gave him credit for. Or, perhaps more precisely, he wasn’t quite as bad as people thought.

His save percentage was down to 91.5 last season, but that’s nicely above 90 percent, generally accepted as the “Mendoza line” for goalies. His level of play just fell distinctly short of his Vezina-worthy 93.3 mark and Rask’s 93.1 pace.

Still, at $5 million and at the age of 36, it’s reasonable to wonder if Thomas already played his best hockey. Then again, maybe he was just worn out. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports that Thomas is “ahead of schedule” in the rehab process after undergoing hip surgery on May 21.

“It’s going really well,” Thomas said. “It’s actually gone exceptionally well, right from the start, which has been a good thing. We’re ramping it up and ramping up the workouts. I think everything would be considered right on track, if not a little bit ahead.”

Next Friday will mark 12 weeks since the procedure. Doctors have told him not to butterfly until the 12-week point. Thomas, however, doesn’t usually start skating until September, so he might not hit the ice at all this month. Thomas said he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.

* Thomas wasn’t willing to note the injury as a reason why his play slipped last year. “You can’t say. Everybody’s got injuries all the time,” Thomas said. “There’s no use even speculating. I can do it for myself. But definitely publicly, I wouldn’t even want to speculate.”

Thomas also had some other interesting things to say in that article.

Contrary to many reports, Thomas said that he never waived his no-trade clause during the NHL Entry Draft. He said “being at least somewhat in the inner loop, you realize that 75 percent of what’s being written is wrong.” Thomas also commented on this summer’s bone-dry goalie market … one that, let’s face it, he’s very lucky he avoided by a year.

While Thomas will likely be the target of trade rumors for the three years remaining on his questionable contract, let’s not forget that the NHL has seen a large quantity of “one-year wonders” in net. If Rask falters, the Bruins will need Thomas to match (or at least approach) his 07-08 form. Getting healthy will improve his – and Boston’s – chances considerably.

Slepyshev earns final Oilers roster spot; Draisaitl to AHL

Anton Slepyshev, Anton Lander
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The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.

The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.

The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.

But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.

“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”

Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.

Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado

Jared McCann, Connor McDavid, Ben Hutton

A preseason push by a number of Vancouver Canucks youngsters has left forward Linden Vey and defenseman Frank Corrado on waivers today.

The more surprising name of the two is Corrado, the 22-year-old who entered the season with an excellent chance of making the opening-day roster. However, it seems that rookie d-man Ben Hutton, 22, has been given the nod after finishing an eye-opening preseason with one goal and four assists in seven games. (This despite Hutton being waiver exempt. So it’s a risk for the Canucks, to be sure.)

It was the play of 19-year-old rookie Jared McCann that led, in part, to the waiving of Vey. (For more on that, click here.) Veteran Adam Cracknell remains with the team as well, to some surprise.

Rookie winger Jake Virtanen is also expected to be on Vancouver’s opening-day roster, though that’s no big shock.

Defenseman Alex Biega is also on waivers, as expected.