Tim Thomas has rarely been boring … or normal … or average — and he might be just what the Stars need right now

In making the veteran Florida Panthers netminder their only acquisition before Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, the Stars did much more than just swap backup goalies, they shook up one of the key areas of concern.

Yes, Kari Lehtonen is ensconced as the No. 1 goalie, and he’s in the first year of a five-year contract extension that makes him the highest paid player on the team at an average salary of $5.9 million. But he’s played only two playoff games in his career (in 2007 with Atlanta).

Thomas is about to turn 40, won two Vezina trophies with the Boston Bruins and has never really considered himself a backup. So the final 20 games of the regular season could get fun for the Stars.
“We had the opportunity to pick up a goalie who has won a Stanley Cup and has strong playoff experience,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “Our team is serious about making the playoffs and making a statement in the playoffs, and this solidifies maybe the most important position on the team.”

That position has had its wobbly moments in the past few seasons. One, the backups have struggled to produce decent numbers in support of Lehtonen and forced coaches to overuse the big Finn. And two, Lehtonen hasn’t shown the poise needed when the Stars were chasing key games down the stretch.

That’s what makes the addition of Thomas so intriguing. Not only does he allow Lehtonen the chance to rest, but he can also push him for his starting job.

The Stars will be diplomatic about that part of Thomas’ influence — after all, Lehtonen is the long-term future of this team. But, it’s hard to look at Thomas’ résumé and think he will be a shrinking violet.
He had to fight and claw his way up to the NHL. After a four-year career at the University of Vermont, he spent time in the IHL, the AHL and Europe and then back to the AHL and then back to Europe until he finally landed a regular gig with Boston in 2006 at age 32. He blossomed with the Bruins, winning the Vezina Trophy as top goalie in 2009 and 2011, and leading Boston to the Stanley Cup in 2011 along with new Stars teammates Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley.