The 38-year-old Thomas, who won the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in 2009 and 2011, elected to take the current season off and was suspended by Boston after failing to report to training camp last month.
While New York acquires a proven netminder in exchange for a draft pick in either 2014 or 2015, the trade appears to have been motivated more by salary cap issues than swapping players.
The trade frees up $5 million in cap space for the Bruins while the Islanders, with one of the NHL's smallest payrolls, will use the contract to get above the cap minimum.
Thomas, who led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the postseason that year, has indicated he plans to return to the NHL next season.
Drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the ninth round of the 1994 NHL draft, Thomas spent the early part of his career playing in Europe and the minor leagues before signing with the Bruins in 2002.
He quickly established himself as one of the NHL's premier netminders, appearing in four All-Star games while posting a career record of 196-121-45 with a 2.48 goals against average.
The combative American netminder is also no stranger to controversy having snubbed the Stanley Cup winners' traditional visit to the White House because he did not agree with President Barack Obama's policies.
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