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NHL NOTEBOOK

Tim Thomas close to a return to the NHL

Ex-Bruins goalie will be free agent

After a yearlong sabbatical, former Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is ready to return to the NHL, his agent said.

Winslow Townson/AP

After a yearlong sabbatical, former Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is ready to return to the NHL, his agent said.

After a yearlong sabbatical, former Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is contemplating a return to the NHL.

His agent, Bill Zito, confirmed Monday night that Thomas asked him to explore what teams might be interested . Zito stressed Thomas is simply assessing his options before determining whether he'll return to play.

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Thomas did not play during the lockout-shortened season in order to spend time with his family.

Thomas’s rights were traded by the Bruins to the New York Islanders in February so the Islanders could meet league’s mandated $44 million salary cap minimum.

Even though Thomas never played for the Islanders and was suspended by the team, they decided not to toll his contract, meaning he will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent on July 5.

Thomas last suited up in the 2011-2012 season, when the Bruins’ season ended with a first-round loss to the Capitals.

During that season, he refused to take part in the Bruins’ trip to the White House to meet President Barack Obama, a reward for winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Thomas led the Bruins to a seven-game victory over the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most outstanding player of the playoffs.

Thomas won the Vezina Trophy twice with the Bruins as the league’s top goalie. He went 196-121-45 in his eight-year career with the Bruins.

Olympic deal close

NHL players are just a slap shot away from returning to the Olympics next year.

While a deal hasn’t been reached yet between the NHL, the players’ union, and the International Ice Hockey Federation, a long meeting pushed the sides closer to an agreement.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, union leader Donald Fehr, and IIHF president Rene Fasel met for more than five hours at league headquarters in New York to work on a deal that would allow NHL players to compete at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

When pressed for a timeline to get a deal done, Bettman responded with an emphatic, ‘‘Soon. Very soon.’’

DiPietro bought out

An Islanders team official confirmed that the team will buy out the remaining eight years of oft-injured goalie Rick DiPietro’s contract. The club will have to pay the former Boston University star and No. 1 pick in the 2000 NHL draft $1.5 million for each of the next 16 years . . . With Tuesday night’s Glendale City Council meeting, the Coyotes will find out if the city will approve an arena lease agreement with Renaissance Sports & Entertainment, which has an agreement to buy the franchise from the NHL. Should the council approve the 15-year, $225 million deal for Jobing.com Arena, the path will be cleared for the Coyotes to stay in Arizona. A vote against the lease agreement means the Coyotes are almost certainly headed out of town.

Bobrovsky re-signs

The Blue Jackets and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky agreed to a two-year contract extension. The 24-year-old Russian, recipient of the Vezina Trophy this season, could have become a restricted free agent this week. The Columbus Dispatch reported that the new deal was for $5.625 million per year . . . The Blue Jackets and former player Tyler Wright, most recently a director of amateur scouting, are parting ways . . . The Rangers acquired defenseman Danny Syvret from the Flyers for forward Kris Newbury.

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