When Tim Thomas informed the Bruins that he had no intention of playing the 2013 season, there was immediate speculation that a small market team with a small payroll might acquire his contract. He's suspended for not reporting, so the team wouldn't have to pay his salary. It would just count towards their cap, and if they were struggling to get above the cap floor, this would be like lowering it by $5 million.
Sure enough, that's exactly what's happened. As first reported by Eklund (which shows that even a broken clock is right twice a day, so Eklund still doesn't come correct as often as a broken clock), the New York Islanders have acquired Thomas and his phantom cap hit in exchange for a conditional 2nd round pick.
Boy, the Islanders are all about acquiring guys that don't want to play in the NHL this season.
Before you flip out about the fact that the Islanders just traded a second round pick in exchange for the right to not play a guy, remember that it's a conditional pick. And, according to Bob McKenzie, the condition is that Thomas plays. If he does (or if the Islanders trade his rights again), the Bruins get the Islanders' second. If he doesn't, the Islanders just acquired him for free.
It's a deal that works for both sides. Boston has cap space to shed and, the Islanders had cap space to burn. Now they're comfortably over the floor -- enough that they don't have to worry about losing a little salary as they build their team over the next year.
That said, it's still patently ridiculous. Thomas isn't budging from his bunker in Colorado, so the Islanders now have $9.5 million under their cap accounted for by two goaltenders that aren't their starter. (And you thought the Canucks were spending a lot on goalies!)
That in mind, this headline on the Islanders' website might be overselling the acquisition a tad:
(Both lines appear to be missing the following phrase: 's contract.)
But more than that, the Islanders and Bruins just gleefully scammed the system. In fact, the Islanders can apparently continue to scam it for quite awhile:
Welp, the 2013 CBA had a good run.