Dineen: Thomas ‘great option’ to start Panthers’ season opener

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Sounds as though Tim Thomas will be an opening night starter.

On Sunday, Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said Thomas would be a “great option” to start Florida’s first game in Dallas on Thursday, all but confirming earlier reports Thomas would enter the season as the team’s No. 1 netminder.

“Tim has really established himself with our team and our organization within a short period of time,” Dineen told the Miami Herald. “[Thomas] is a good guy and a real solid player for us right now.

“He’s a great option for us on Thursday night.”

The remarks speak to how quickly things have changed in Florida over the last two weeks.

After Scott Clemmensen went down to injury, it was expected 23-year-old Jacob Markstrom would begin the year as the team’s starter. But Florida flipped the script by bringing Thomas to camp on a PTO in mid-September, then signing him to a one-year deal shortly thereafter.

Thomas then shined in his first preseason action, stopping nine of 10 shots in a loss to Tampa Bay.