Chiarelli talked to Flyers and Capitals about moving Tim Thomas

1 Comment

On the eve of a Stanley Cup parade traveling down Causeway, we learned just how close Boston’s playoff hero came to wearing another jersey this season. Rewind to the beginning of the season and there were plenty of questions about Tim Thomas’ age, health, and spot on this Bruins team. The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner was coming off an injury plagued season that saw him lose his starting job to the promising Tuukka Rask. After Thomas’ historic season, it’s hard to remember the questionable circumstances in which the season started for the veteran. Luckily for the Bruins (and their fans), GM Peter Chiarelli had faith that Thomas would rebound this season.

In fact, opposing general managers were inquiring about his availability before the season—including two talented Eastern Conference rivals. Joe Haggerty from CSNNE.com spoke to Chiarelli and learned that the Flyers and Capitals both had preliminary interest in acquiring Thomas.

“Chiarelli admitted on Friday morning he’d taken phone calls about Tim Thomas, and sources indicated then to CSNNE.com that the most seriously interested parties were Washington and Philadelphia. The Bruins and Flyers had casually discussed a deal involving Thomas to the Flyers while the goalie was recovering from hip surgery after losing his playoff starting role to a younger goaltending model in Tuukka Rask.

But the two teams couldn’t agree on fair trade value for Thomas (the Bruins wanted Jeff Carter, and the Flyers were only willing to unload Simon Gagne), though Philadelphia was the place Thomas wanted to be if he was going to be moved.”

Needless to say, acquiring Thomas would have solved all of the Flyers goaltending problems this season. They wouldn’t be negotiating with the Ilya Bryzgalov this offseason and they wouldn’t have had to rush Sergei Bobrovsky into a starting role. Let’s face it—the Flyers with Tim Thomas would have been an absolute beast of a team and probably would have been on the other end of the 4-0 sweep against the Bruins in the playoffs.

The Capitals also could have used a veteran on their team—both between the pipes to help their trio of young goaltenders and also in their locker room. Bruins players have said over the course of the season that Thomas was a calming influence on the ice when the opponents were pressuring. That same calming influence was exactly what the Caps needed against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. Instead, they went with their young goaltenders, had the best regular season record in the East again, and still have no more answers today than they did at the beginning of the season.

Peter Chiarelli spoke about trade offers from other teams and how close he was to moving the Conn Smythe Trophy winner before the season started:

“Not really (close). If you can recall at the time there was a kind of a mutual agreement between myself and Tim [Thomas] and Bill Zito to explore [a trade] on the premise that Tim does not want to leave Boston. That’s really where it ended. It’s really where it ended.

“There were some calls in that and they kept him in the loop at all times. He kept stressing he didn’t want to leave. And I said ‘I know… let’s just look at this very briefly.’ I know there are a lot of stories that flowed from it, but I can’t stress enough the fact that Tim never wanted to leave. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I at least didn’t look at some things, and I did. You go through those things on a number of fronts with a number of players. You just field stuff. You look at them and you talk to other teams. At the end of the day you make the decision ‘yay or nay’. And here it was ‘nay.’ It was an easy ‘nay.’

Glad to hear it was an easy decision for Chiarelli. The only numbers better than Tim Thomas’ stats during the regular season were his stats in the playoffs. In the regular season, Thomas posted a 35-11-9 record with a 2.00 goals against average and .938 save percentage. The numbers were good enough to earn him an invitation to Las Vegas as a Vezina finalist—and unless a meteor hits The Palms, he’ll walk away with his second trophy in the last three seasons. His major competitor this season wasn’t someone playing for another team, but someone playing in a different era. Even Dominik Hasek would have been impressed by Thomas’ regular season.

In the playoffs, Thomas did one better. En route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, he actually improved upon his regular season stats. The 1.98 goals against average and .940 save percentage will have people talking about his postseason for years to come.

Simply stated: he had one of the most dominant seasons the NHL has ever seen. Bruins fans are undoubtedly happy that he did it in Boston.

Jaromir Jagr leaves game with lower body injury

Getty
Leave a comment

Calgary Flames forward Jaromir Jagr played just four shifts on Saturday night before exiting their game against the Minnesota Wild in the first period.

The Flames later announced that Jagr would not return with what the team is calling a lower body injury.

They had no other update.

After going through the entire summer unsigned as a free agent, Jagr finally landed a one-year deal with the Flames just before the start of the season. So far he has appeared in five games for the team recording a pair of assists.

He recorded 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) while playing in all 82 games for the Florida Panthers a year ago.

Even though he appeared in every game a year ago he still showed some signs of finally starting to slow down, and you have to assume that there is going to be some sort of an injury concern for a player that is turning 46 years old in February.

Senators top Maple Leafs but lose Bobby Ryan for a month

Getty
Leave a comment

The Ottawa Senators’ 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night came with a price.

After the game coach Guy Boucher confirmed that veteran forward Bobby Ryan broke his right index finger during the game and is expected to miss at least the next month.

Ryan has yet to score a goal for the Senators in eight games this season but has recorded five assists.

He fought through an injury plagued season in 2016-17 that ended with one of the worst individual stat lines of his career. He was able to salvage the season however with a tremendous postseason performance that saw him finish with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 19 games as the Senators went all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals where they would lose in double overtime.

The Senators are off to a great start this season earning at least a point in seven of their first eight games (4-1-3).

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Penguins seem to have a backup goalie problem

AP
7 Comments

The Penguins worked to address one area of concern on Saturday when they acquired forward Riley Sheahan from the Detroit Red Wings.

Now they need to start working on another major area of concern — their backup goalie.

The Penguins had to know Antti Niemi was never going to step into Pittsburgh and replace what Marc-Andre Fleury gave them on the ice, but they had to be expecting a little more than what they have received thus far.

After giving up seven goals in the Penguins’ 7-1 loss in Tampa Bay on Saturday night, Niemi has now given up 16 goals in 128 minutes of hockey this season. His save percentage is a brutal .797.

In games Niemi starts the Penguins are 0-3 and have been outscored 22-6, losing games by margins of 10-1 and 7-1.

In the games he hasn’t started they are 5-0-1 and have outscored their opponents 24-17.

It would be unfair to put all of the blame on Niemi, because even with regular starter Matt Murray in net they have also had stretches where they have struggled defensively and not quite played at the level they showed the past two seasons.

Niemi has also made all of his starts in the second half of back-to-back situations against teams that were not only rested the night before, but also teams that should be among the best in the league this season (the Chicago Blackhawks, two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning).

But none of that can excuse the way Niemi himself has played thus far, either. At some point you  need your goalie to make a save no matter who your team is playing or what is happening around him. His rebound control has been shaky, he looks uncomfortable when he is making saves and it is not like he is coming off of a great performance a year ago. In 42 appearances with the Dallas Stars he finished with an .892 save percentage, one of the worst marks in the league, and was at .905 the year before. He is 34 years old and has not performed at a better than league average level (or even at a league average level) in several years.

It has to be an area of concern for the Penguins because if Murray has a flaw early in his young career it is that he has missed some time due to injury. In the past they have had Fleury there to step in. They do not have that luxury now.

Niemi is only signed for one year at $700,000 so it is not like they have a huge investment in him.

If they decide to go in another direction already (they will probably give Niemi a little bit of a longer leash, I am sure) they have Tristan Jarry in the American Hockey League, or perhaps explore a trade if they are uncomfortable with such a young duo and inexperienced backup behind Murray.

Either way, it is really difficult to see them sticking around with this sort of performance from their backup for much longer.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

WATCH LIVE: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals

Getty
Leave a comment

The Washington Capitals, fresh off of a 4-3 overtime win on Friday night thanks to Alex Ovechkin‘s NHL record 20th overtime goal, return home on Saturday night to host the Florida Panthers.

After winning their first two games of the season the Capitals have stumbled a little bit over the past couple of weeks winning just two of their past six games. They are looking to win consecutive games for the first time since those back-to-back wins to open the season.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are coming off of a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night that cost them goaltender Roberto Luongo who was placed on injured reserve on Saturday afternoon.

You can catch all of the action on NBCSN. Game time is 7:30 p.m. ET.

Click here to watch live.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.