Tim Thomas eyeing possible return to NHL: agent

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After a year away from the ice, Tim Thomas appears set on returning to work.

The former Boston Bruins goalie looks to be eyeing an NHL job for next season, his agent Bill Zito confirmed on Monday.

"We talked this morning and he asked me to see if there's any options," Zito said by phone. "So I'll be exploring his options to see what could be out there."

Zito stressed that Thomas wants to gauge any interest before determining whether he'll return to play.

The 39-year-old Thomas took a hiatus from hockey when he officially announced last summer a planned layoff in part due to family reasons. The Flint, Mich., native had one year remaining on a four-year deal — that carried an annual cap hit of $5 million US — at the time and was suspended by Boston for failing to report to training camp before this past season.

He was shipped to the New York Islanders in a February deal for a conditional second-round pick in 2015. The Islanders had the right to toll his contract — essentially carry it over for next year — due to the fact he didn't suit up for them this past season, but have not made any official announcements meaning Thomas would be free to test the free agent waters come July 5.

Boston, with Tuukka Rask in net, went on to appear in its second Stanley Cup final in the past three seasons, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Thomas, known for being outspoken, was often the subject of scrutiny for expressing his political beliefs through social media sites such as Facebook. Early last year, the five-foot-11, 208-pound goalie drew plenty of criticism for skipping the Bruins' trip to the White House to honour their 2011 Stanley Cup win.

The former ninth-round pick in 1994 of the now-defunct Quebec Nordiques is a four-time all-star and two-time Vezina Trophy winner as the league's top goaltender (2009 and 2011), and won a silver medal with the U.S. Olympic team in 2010.

He has spent his entire eight-year career with the Bruins and has compiled a 196-121-45 record in 378 career games, with a Stanley Cup win in 2011 and a Conn Smythe Trophy that same season. Thomas has a career 2.48 goals-against average to go along with 31 shutouts.

The Islanders also reportedly bought out the remaining eight years of netminder Rick DiPietro's contract on Monday, creating a potentially crowded free agent market for goalies. In addition to Thomas and DiPietro, other notable names slated to hit free agency on Friday include Ilya Bryzgalov, Evgeni Nabokov, and Nikolai Khabibulin.

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