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THOMAS SIGNS, PANTHERS SOLD: Sunrise has New Goalie and New Owner

TWITTER: @ GeorgeRichards

ESTERO, Fla. -- The Panthers officially added Stanley Cup champion goaltender Tim Thomas by signing the 39-year-old to a one-year deal on Thursday.

Thomas was in camp on a professional try out which expired on Wednesday with the two sides negotiating the contract -- which the NHL approved on Thursday afternoon.

Thomas started Florida's preseason game at Germain Arena later that night, making saves on all five shots faced in the opening period against the Lightning.

Thomas led the Boston Bruins to their first Stanley Cup championship in almost 40 years in 2011 -- winning postseason MVP honors as well as the Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder.

After a tumultuous 2011-12 season, one in which Thomas skipped the Bruins' trip to the White House, Thomas left the Bruins and didn't play last season.

Thomas reported to Panthers' training camp in good shape and will likely be Florida's opening night starter in Dallas on Oct. 3.

Tallon said that Thomas' contract is "incentive laden." Thomas will get a base salary of $2.5 million although his cap hit is closer to $4 million because of various incentives.

Thomas was scheduled to make $3 million in the final year of his deal with the Bruins last year -- although he would have made closer to $2 million had he played because of the NHL's lockout-shortened season.

"I loved watching him practice every day,'' Tallon said. "He battles on every shot. This is great for the team, great for him and great for our goalies. They see how he works, how he prepares. You can see why he's a champion. That's a very important thing."

-- The Panthers will introduce Brooklyn's Vinnie Viola will be introduced as the team's owner at a press conference Friday morning at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

Viola is believed to have spent $230 million for the franchise and the operating agreement for the Broward County-owned BB&T Center. Florida has a lease with the county through 2028.



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Thomas signed for some coin and a shot at the US Olympic team. In the process, he can only help the Panthers. I like the signing and the return could be decent or better from a playoff contender at the deadline, despite Thomas being only a playoff rental at that point (1 year contract). That said, he's gonna be in for an awakening in terms of Floridas D compared to Bostons. Best thing about Thomas signing with Florida is his professionalism and work ethic ... by example, it will only help Markstrom. Good signing even if he isn't quite what he was in 2011-2012 and prior.

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