BOSTON, MA - MARCH 08: Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins celebrates the win after the game against the Buffalo Sabres on March 8, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Bruins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Tim Thomas, via his world-famous Facebook page, has confirmed that he will be taking the 2012-13 NHL season off, citing the need to spend more time, in order, with his "Friends, Family and Faith."
The Bruins options at this point are pretty limited: they cannot LTIR Thomas without a doctor indicating that he's injured and will be unable to play, and without LTIR or a trade, they'll be on the hook for Thomas' $3 million salary and $5 million cap hit in 2012-13.
Of course, the other option is that the team could suspend Thomas and toll his contract until the 2013-14 season, which (by my understanding) means that the $5 million hit wouldn't be in play in the coming season. But it's unlikely that the Bruins would want to wait another year to determine what to do with Thomas; they could - and may now be forced to - LTIR Marc Savard, whose $4 million hit was never taken off the cap last year. They could still try to trade Thomas, but it seems unlikely that they'll have any takers, unless Peter Chiarelli is willing to get something like a fifth-rounder for the rights to Thomas from the Blackhawks or another team similarly looking for goaltending.
That said, there are still CBA negotiations to be held this summer, and it's possible that the stipulations surrounding 35-plus contracts may change entirely, if enough general managers are on board with the idea and, you know, if the CBA is ratified and we have a 2012-13 NHL season.