If you listen to the Stars about their desire to up the competition level of their goaltending position, you automatically start to ponder exactly who might accomplish such a task.

A free agent? A trade? An overseas acquisition?

Just how will the Stars inject this extra element?

Well, when you consider the one-year contract for Cristopher Nilstorp, you start to see that the team could look past Richard Bachman and either go for a veteran back-up that needs a fresh start or possibly try a wildcard from Europe or the AHL.

There aren’t that many veterans available, and Tim Thomas leaps to the top of the group. The 39-year-old certainly is talented. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2009 and 2011 and the Conn Smythe in 2011 when he led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup with a record .967 save percentage in the finals.

So, there doesn’t seem to be much of an age issue with Thomas. Other issues? Well, sure.

Thomas is a goalie who wears his emotions on his sleeve. He declined an invitation to the White House in 2011 because of his political beliefs, and that became a bit of a distraction to his goaltending in 2011-12. He took last year off (even before the lockout was declared) so that he could spend more time with his family. Here was his post on Facebook at the the time of his decision.

Now, these are all noble reasons, and they say a lot about the Michigan native, but you still have to wonder if any of this gets in the way of stopping the puck or if it could affect team chemistry. On the one hand, Thomas could form a tremendous tandem with Kari Lehtonen and possibly give the Stars the best goaltending duo in the league. On the other hand, he could become such a distraction that the entire team unravels.

It’s a gamble.

On the good side of the gamble, Thomas played parts of five seasons in Finland and has a great grasp of Lehtonen’s culture. He shared the net with Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask in Boston, and Rask told reporters this week that he still speaks with Thomas. So, there is a foundation there for a solid relationship with Lehtonen.

The question would be if Thomas wants to come to a team where he will be the back-up goalie. He seems to have that Ed Belfour-like drive to be the best, and would probably want a chance to lead a team. But people have suggested he was tired after a long run in which he was playing a ton, and that was the reason he wanted a year off, so maybe back-up goalie (or tandem goalie) is the perfect fit for him right now.

All of that would be very interesting if Thomas was an unrestricted free agent _ then you could simply ponder whether or not Dallas was the best location and whether or not new GM Jim Nill could convince Thomas to use one of his final seasons to play for a team that has missed the playoff five years in a row. But it’s more complicated than that. Thomas’ rights are owned by the New York Islanders, who acquired Thomas from Boston in a February deal to help both teams with cap space issues.

That means the Islanders can “toll his contract” for 2012-13 and still own one more year of Thomas. That’s important on the Island, where they often struggle to get to the cap floor. It’s also important on a team that seems to have eternal goaltending issues. Evgeni Nabokov can become an unrestricted free agent on July 5, and the guess is the Islanders would like to get him re-signed. But Thomas could be a nice fall-back plan. In addition, the Islanders still have the Rick DiPietro issue. His contract expires in 2022, and while he spent most of last season dealing with injuries, he should come back after the off-season healthy and ready to play.

Would Thomas want to stay on the Island? Would that be the best path, especially if he could get the same chance to be a No.1 goalie that Nabokov had last season? What would it take for the Islanders to trade Thomas, who has one year left on his deal at $3 million in salary with a $5 million cap hit?

You can see how this gets complicated.

The guess here is the Stars don’t have a problem with the $3 million pricetag for Thomas, even if they are slated to pay Lehtonen $6.25 million next season. They have seen how important an extra five wins can be in the pursuit of a playoff spot, and the thought process is Thomas would be well worth what it would cost to add a $3 million forward or defenseman. His investment could clearly be seen in the standings. But, what would they be willing to trade, and what would the Islanders ask for?