The Boston Bruins have traded goaltender Tim Thomas to the New York Islanders in exchange for a conditional second-round draft pick in 2014 or 2015.
The draft pick the Bruins acquired is conditional on Thomas reporting to the Islanders or to any other team in the event the Islanders should trade his rights elsewhere.
The move puts the Islanders above the cap floor and the team can choose to toll the contract so they can keep using the cap hit in perpetuity if Thomas doesn't come back, or just let his contract expire at the end of the season.
"We have acquired an asset for our organization," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "This acquisition allows us flexibility with our roster moving forward."
Boston, meanwhile, clears Thomas' contract from its books. Though he has taken the season off, Thomas' contract still counts towards the Bruins' salary cap obligations, since he is over the age of 35. Thomas announced last summer that he was taking a year off from hockey.
Thomas' agent, Bill Zito, said Thursday that Thomas' situation remains status quo.
"As far as I know, none of this had anything to do with Tim. In fact, it was news to us when we learned of it.''
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was asked how the league felt about this type of trade.
"As long as a player has an active contract that he has the right to return to, absent unusual circumstances, our view is that he remains a 'hockey asset' that a club has a right to trade or acquire," Daly told TSN.
Thomas is in the final year of his current contract, which carries a $5 million cap hit for the 2012-13 season. The no-movement clause that is a part of the deal expired July 1, 2012.
"We felt this would give us flexibility immediately. It was us being proactive," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said on a conference call. "I've had discussions on and off with the Islanders regarding this for a while. I don't really want to get into details. I think I've made it known publicly this was something we would like to try to do at some point."
The 38-year-old went 35-19-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in 2011-12. In the playoffs, he had a 2.14 GAA and a .923 save percentage. Boston lost in seven games to Washington in the first round.
Thomas won the 2009 and 2011 Vezina Trophy, and has a 196-121-45 record and 2.48 GAA in 378 career games with the Bruins. In 50 postseason games, he holds a 29-21 mark with a 2.07 GAA. He won the 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy after leading Boston to its first Stanley Cup title since 1972.
"He had a very good career here," Chiarelli said. "I can't say enough of his contributions to the team. The journey he took us on in the Stanley Cup was amazing. I was happy to be along for the ride."
A native of Flint, Michigan, Thomas was originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 11th round (217th overall) of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He was signed by the Bruins as a free agent prior to the 2005-06 season.