Dwayne Roloson makes stellar Tampa Bay debut, shuts out Washington 1-0 in overtime

We know by now that Dwayne Roloson has had a solid season with the New York Islanders and he offered the possibility of giving the Tampa Bay Lightning a goalie they could rely on more often than not when they traded for him Saturday night. Tonight, Roloson made his debut with Tampa Bay and proved the Lightning right, for one night at least, why they made the move to acquire him.

Roloson stopped 34 shots on the way to a 1-0 shutout win over the Capitals on the road in Washington. Martin St. Louis scored off a rebound in overtime to get Roloson the win and put the Tampa Bay Lightning alone in first place ahead of Washington in the Southeast Division.

Roloson’s effort is the exact thing they needed on a night when Semyon Varlamov was equally as good. Varlamov stopped 37 shots in a tough overtime effort for the young Russian. For Tampa Bay, if Roloson is able to perform like this on a regular basis, the Capitals are going to have their hands full in dealing with them (and Atlanta) all season long. After consecutive seasons of coasting through the regular season without much fight heading to the playoffs, a dramatically tougher Southeast Division might be just what Washington needs to be better prepared for the playoffs.

As for now, Tampa Bay is riding high and after a great December they’re starting off January on the right foot and they’ve still got their main men from their 2004 Stanley Cup team in St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. With Steve Stamkos there to provide a focus for their offense and to learn from them, Tampa Bay could be the team no one wants a piece of in the playoffs.

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.