BOSTON (CBS) - It hasn't even been a week since the Boston Bruins' season ended, but the speculation of Tim Thomas' future with the team has already begun.
Thomas was somewhat human during the regular season and playoffs after a historic performance in last year's Stanley Cup run. It was an up and down year off the ice, with plenty of distractions stemming from skipping the B's White House trip and other Facebook posts he made.
The Bruins have Tuukka Rask waiting in the wings, and were pleased with what Anton Khudobin had to offer in Providence and a brief NHL stint at the end of the season. So, will the two-time Vezina winner be back in Boston for the 2012-13 season?
"I'm not sure he wants to be here anymore," CSNNE Bruins insider Joe Haggery told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich Tuesday morning. "He was very hesitant when asked if he wanted to retire a member of the Bruins. He had to think about it and he was giving very weird answers or answers that were very unclear. I don't think he is back. I think they'll look to move him. They'll end up having Khudobin and Rask as their two young goalies going into next year."
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"Maybe they can get value. Maybe they can go out and get somebody," Haggerty said of a potential Thomas trade. "A team that really needs a goalie, maybe (the Bruins) can get another piece that can help them scoring-wise or somewhere else."
The Bruins also have a few free agents of their own to worry about, namely forward Chris Kelly. The 31-year-old was Mr. Everything for Boston in 2012, playing on whichever line he was needed on while netting a career-best 20 goals. He finished his first full season in Boston with a career-high 39 points, but will now hit the open market for a big payday, which may be too rich for the Bruins.
"Kelly is a tough call because he is going to command money on the market after that 20-goal season. At 31, this is his best time to get a big contract from someone and do the best he can financially," said Haggerty. "I know he wants to come back, I'm not sure if it's going to be possible just given the team's dynamic and the value a player like that has in the Bruins' heads as opposed to what he can get out there."
"It would be great to have him back. He's a valuable contributor, but I don't know if he will be," he said.
The Bruins also have some questions on their fourth line, better known as "The Merlot Line." While they locked up Shawn Thornton with a two-year extension during the season, his linemates Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille are both free agents, and could find themselves elsewhere come next season.
"I think the fourth line is somewhere you'll see some change. They would like to have both of those players back -- Paille and Campbell -- but look at the playoffs. They got completely outplayed by the Washington fourth line," said Haggerty. "The fourth line is a place -- aside from Shawn Thornton -- that's a haven for young, inexpensive players coming up. That's what I think you'll see the Bruins do with some of the roles on that fourth line."
Should the Bruins trade Tim Thomas this off-season? And which free agents would you like to see back on the team? Let us know in the comments section...
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