Another big question answered: Lightning hand Dwayne Roloson one-year deal worth $3M

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To some extent, it seemed like Dwayne Roloson couldn’t ever really get a fair shake in the NHL. Roloson fought his way into the NHL after going undrafted, bouncing from the Calgary Flames to the Buffalo Sabres before finding a little stability in Minnesota. That being said, he dealt with an unstable goalie rotation alongside Manny Fernandez with the Wild as Jacques Lemaire pulled the two goalies at the drop of a hat during the team’s only deep playoff run in 2003.

It seemed like Roloson found a real home in Edmonton starting in the 2005-06 season, though. Even so, that stay was tinged with some disappointment too. Roloson was the second most valuable Oilers player behind Chris Pronger during their magical run to the 2006 Stanley Cup finals, but he never returned after suffering an injury during Game 1 of that championship series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Roloson played pretty well on some bad Oilers and New York Islanders teams after that brief taste of success, but it seemed like he would finish his career with more “What if?” questions than great memories.

Finding a home in Tampa Bay

That seemed to be the case until the Tampa Bay Lightning’s goalie issues forced them to trade for Roloson midway through the 2010-11 season. He wasn’t a superstar for the Bolts in his 34 regular season games, but he provided them with much-needed stability and occasionally brilliant work leading up to the playoffs.

Of course, you probably know what happened in the postseason. Roloson brought the Lightning to within one win of their second-ever run to the Stanley Cup finals and was brilliant for most of the playoffs, winning 10 games and sporting an outstanding .924 save percentage.

Still, at 41-years-old, there were some questions as to whether the Lightning would stick with their aging netminder. Those questions can be put to rest now that Yzerman and Roloson agreed to an everyone-wins one-year deal worth $3 million. That constitutes a $500K yearly raise from his previous two-year, $5 million contract but the Lightning benefit from the reduced risk of a single season contract.

Roloson still needs a backup

To be honest, the Lightning might not be crazy to re-sign Mike Smith to be his backup, either … if he’s willing to take a substantial pay cut from his previous $2.2 million cap hit. Smith’s puck-moving skills were a nice fit for head coach Guy Boucher’s defensive system, so he might be a decent option for a Bolts team that might not be ready to push Cedrick Desjardins to a backup role next season. Of course, the Lightning could always find another backup, but Smith holds the advantage of being familiar with the franchise and coaching staff.

Either way, the Lightning would be wise to find a goalie who can spell Roloson. At his advanced age, he probably should be limited to 60 starts next season. (It’s not like limiting starts only works for older guys either; Vezina Trophy candidate Roberto Luongo only played 60 games in the 2010-11 regular season and that worked out pretty well for the Vancouver Canucks.)

Yzerman still has a lot of work to do

As we’d discussed a few times already, the Lightning have a lot of questions going into July 1, but they’re starting to knock down questions like a high stakes game of “Guess Who?”. With Roloson, Eric Brewer, Adam Hall and Marc-Andre Bergeron locked up, the Bolts can focus on the mammoth Steven Stamkos re-signing, figuring out what to do with Ted Purcell/Sean Bergenheim and whether or not they want to bring Simon Gagne back.

That’s still a tough set of decisions, but at least Yzerman answered what might have been the second most important question of a challenging off-season by bringing back Roloson.

Report: Wings, Hawks, Preds in mix to sign ‘strong two-way center’ Ejdsell

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Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.

Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.

It’s easy to see why.

He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.

“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”

Vlasic joins Canada for Worlds, extending marathon campaign

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Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.

On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.

Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.

From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.

In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.

And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.

During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.

Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

Stepan: ‘I’ve stunk since the playoffs started’

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Derek Stepan knows he’s not playing very well, and he knows he’ll have to be better if the New York Rangers are going to make it past the Ottawa Senators.

With just one goal (an empty-netter) and one assist in seven playoff games, Stepan’s offensive production has fallen off a cliff after a respectable 55-point regular season, which included 38 assists.

“I’ve stunk since the playoffs started,” Stepan said, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “I’ve been not very good with the puck.”

An all-situations center, Stepan is more than just an offensive type. But he’s produced in previous playoff runs, and the Rangers need him to produce now — especially against a tight-checking Sens team that boasts a 2.00 goals-against average in these playoffs.

Stepan has 45 points (18G, 27A) in 92 career playoff games.

To be fair, he’s not the only Ranger who needs to get going offensively. One of the Blueshirts’ big strengths during the regular season was their balanced scoring, with all four lines contributing — and that’s not happening right now.

No Bieksa for Anaheim tonight, but Vatanen could return

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The Ducks will be without their most veteran skater on Friday as they look to even up their series with Edmonton.

Kevin Bieksa, who exited Game 1 with a lower-body injury following a collision with fellow d-man Shea Theodore, has been ruled out for tonight’s Game 2. It marks the first tilt the 35-year-old will miss this postseason.

Bieksa was enjoying a pretty good playoff prior to getting hurt. He racked up four assists in five games, while averaging just under 17 minutes per night. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is holding out hope Bieksa could return later in the series.

While this is a loss for the Ducks, it goes a long way in illustrating how much defensive depth they have.

While Carlyle wouldn’t confirm, all signs point to Sami Vatanen drawing in for Bieksa. Vatanen has been out since Game 1 of the Calgary series with an upper-body injury, but has resumed practicing and sounds like he’s ready to go.

“It’s always nice when a player is closer to coming back and you can potentially put them back in the lineup,” Carlyle said of Vatanen.

Anaheim dressed a blueline of Bieksa, Theodore, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour in Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat. If Vatanen can’t draw in for Bieksa, the club still has Korbinian Holzer in reserve.