Every team deals with the salary cap in a different way, but it’s pretty clear that few have ever dealt with it like the Islanders.

Yesterday, the Brooklyn-bound franchise traded for inactive Bruins’ goalie Tim Thomas, giving up a conditional second-round pick in 2014 or 2015 — only if Thomas plays a game, regardless for what team.

“We traded for an asset,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said before the team’s 4-1 loss to the Rangers last night at the Garden. “It gives us flexibility going forward.”

What Snow meant by flexibility is that this gets them further above the salary-cap floor, with Thomas’ $5 million hit counting whether he plays or not, as his contract was signed when he was over 35 years old. That included, the Islanders’ payroll is now just over $53 million with the cap floor at $44 million.

With that gap, the team is no longer tied to the players they have, and possibly can make a trade without being forced to take on more money. That group also includes defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and his $5.6 million cap hit ($3 million pro-rated salary). Visnovsky returned from Slovakia Wednesday and passed his physical yesterday, joining the active roster.

“I like the way our group has played and I didn’t want to delete a body to make room for other players,” Snow said. “This allows us that flexibility.”

Thomas has been at home in Colorado and to Snow’s knowledge has not been skating or working out. There is little chance he plays this season, which means the Islanders would have the option to toll his contract and carry it over to next season.

Thomas is a two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy, and was a Conn Smythe winner in 2011 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. He caused controversy when he decided not to go to the White House to meet President Obama. Thomas is a staunch political conservative.

After losing to the Capitals in the first round of last season’s playoffs, Thomas decided he didn’t want to come back and play this season because he wanted to spend more time with his family.