With injuries coming in waves for the Florida Panthers and San Antonio call-ups not exactly impressing in their short stints in the big leagues, the Panthers have reportedly signed Bill Thomas to fill in a spot on the lower lines. 28 year old Thomas has seen time in Sunrise before, he served as the go-to guy for injury call-ups last season with the Panthers playing in 24 games across the span of the season. With injuries suddenly becoming a problem again (Jack Skille was injured vs. Calgary and Sean Bergenheim went down last game) Thomas will find himself in that position yet again for what could be a few months as players slowly return to the lineup. More on Thomas after the jump.So why exactly does this seemingly minor movement command your attention? On the surface it may seem to be just a regular AHL recall except for the fact Thomas wasn't under contract with the Panthers, but harken back to the horrors of last season for this bright spot. Not only did Thomas generate a bit of offense(4G/3A, not bad for a career AHLer) but more importantly; he was a defensively solid, dependable player that then coach Peter DeBoer could use for 10 minutes of ice time each game. Bill Thomas isn't Kearns, Cullen or even Krys Barch for that matter; Thomas won't end up riding the pine for all but three minutes (see Greg Rallo) but will be cycled like any regular member of the fourth line. Thomas certainly isn't always noticeable in every game but he plays well enough as to not be invisible, which is really all you can ask for from a call-up. In essence, having Thomas in the lineup won't require Dineen to skate other players extra to pick up the slack, Thomas has shown he can hold his own quite well before.
I was legitimately bummed out after the free agency period to see the Panthers hadn't resigned Bill Thomas, but the foresight of San Antonio GM Mike Santos to keep this guy for the AHL affiliate made this deal a reality. The hope is that Thomas will fit in nicely (something other call-ups this year haven't) and hold a spot with the team until returning players force him back to San Antonio.
Thomas has 9G/8A for the third highest points total on the Rampage. No details have been released on the contract, but we're probably not looking at Christian Ehrhoff numbers. Tim Kennedy has also been recalled from San Antonio and is slated to play Tuesday.