What are the Bruins’ options if Thomas refuses to play?

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As we previously reported, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas might decide to skip the 2012-13 season rather than play for the remainder of his contract. Which leads us to the big question: What now?

If you want to get up to date on all the angles regarding the surprising revelation out of Boston, you should check out CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty’s video on the matter:

The Bruins’ first order of business should be re-signing Tuukka Rask, who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer. Assuming they do that – and they should be able to sign Rask without incident – then they will be fine from a goaltending perspective. Rask has been a superb backup for three years, he was a highly regarded prospect before that, and at the age of 25, he’s ready to take the next step.

So the biggest question isn’t if the Bruins can survive without Thomas, it’s how bad would his $5 million cap hit hurt them. According to capgeek.com, they have $60,327,976 in cap space tied up to 19 players, including Thomas and Marc Savard – the latter of which will probably end up on the long-term injured reserve list. So they do still have some breathing room if the cap goes up to $70.3 million as projected.

The problem is that the new CBA might bring the cap down, which could create some headaches for the Bruins. Even if it doesn’t, this issue might be cause enough for Boston to avoid making any major acquisitions this summer unless they’re willing to get creative.

One way around this problem – if Thomas decides not to play – is to trade him to a team that’s struggling to reach the cap floor. Of course, if Thomas has made it clear by that point that he doesn’t want to play, then the Bruins aren’t likely to get anything of note in return unless Thomas is included in a much bigger deal.

At any rate, this is one potential problem that not many people would have predicted that the Bruins would have just a few weeks ago.