New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils

Tampa Bay tries to improve its goalie situation by trading for veteran Dwayne Roloson

Until a recent run of wins, veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson went without a win for months. Yet somehow the former Minnesota Wild netminder managed to put up pretty nice individual numbers beyond his 6-13-1 record, with a nice 91.6 save percentage and a solid 2.64 goals against average.

Apparently Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman feels that Roloson might be a diamond in the Long Island rough, being that he decided to acquire the 41-year-old goalie from the New York Islanders tonight in exchange for minor league defenseman Ty Wishart. This trade brings up two interesting thoughts.

So what now for Dan Ellis and Mike Smith?

Bringing in Rollie the Goalie means that the Lightning might face a Three’s Company scenario in net. (In fact, because of Smith’s injury, the team actually gave prospect Cedrick Desjardins some starts so they technically have four goalies on their roster at right now.)

Ultimately, it’s going to come down to Ellis, Smith and Roloson as the team’s duo. Roloson ($2.5 million) and Smith ($2.2 million) are in contract years this year while Ellis ($1.5 million) will see his contract expire after the 2011-12 season. My guess is that the Lightning might be exasperated by Smith’s injury issues and inconsistency, so an Ellis-Roloson tandem would be my best bet.

If that’s true, then Smith might find himself on waivers and/or on the trading block going forward.

So much for Evgeni Nabokov

The Lightning’s struggling goalie duo (and cap space) justified the speculation that Nabokov might end up in Tampa Bay. Barring injuries or other unforeseen changes, that obviously won’t be a realistic rumor any longer. It seems like the Russian goalie will either need to root for injuries or goalie meltdowns if he thinks that he’ll play in the NHL anytime soon.


Ultimately, I think that this is a decent low-risk gamble by the Lightning. Roloson has playoff experience and an expiring deal, giving him motivation while Tampa Bay won’t have to deal with an albatross after the season. Meanwhile the New York Islanders save a little cash and get a little younger with Wyshart, who was a San Jose Sharks 2006 first round draft pick.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.