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12-17-2012, 03:42 PM
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We didn't mind putting Johnny Bower high on the list despite breaking in at a late age and spending time in the minors.

The thing about Thomas, he didn't just slum around in the AHL while waiting for a shot. He always chased the opportunity to be a starter somewhere, anywhere, when the Bruins slammed the door in his face every fall. Immediately prior to coming into the NHL and becoming the best goalie of the post-lockout era (ha), he tore up the AHL and absolutely wrecked the Finnish league. So while he may not have been in the NHL at the time, racking up GP like some of his competition here, he was certainly not playing at a sub-NHL level or giving us reason to think he was a fraud a few years later. I think we can reliably trace his high-end play to 2003, age 29, which is not particularly old for a goalie to hit his stride.

IMO, there is a very big difference between a goalie who gets stuck in the minors due to internal organizational politics, like Thomas and Bower, as opposed to one who is legitimately a minor leaguer working on his game. Thomas has been a top-shelf goalie for almost a decade now and that actually is a decent string of consistency and durability.

edit: That said, I'm not sure if he'll make my top-8 and he'll be pretty low if he does. But the standard criticism of his career path is, in my opinion, misguided.

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