Last year, Tampa GM Steve Yzerman’s shrewd deal-making was a key factor in getting the Lightning to within a game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
This year, he might need to make an even shrewder deal — just to get the Lightning into the playoffs.
Yzerman’s key acquisition from a year ago, goalie Dwayne Roloson, is suffering through a nightmarish campaign:
— 3.67 GAA (68th in the NHL)
— .882 save percentage (65th)
— 6-9-1 record
— .525 goals-against average over his last five starts (all losses)
And while the organization has been steadfast in its backing of Roloson, the Lightning have lost seven of eight and are just three points out of the Eastern Conference cellar. As such, patience appears to have worn thin.
“In regards to Roli, he’s having a tough time,” Yzerman told the St. Petersburg Times. “He’s working at it. He’s trying to get back into form. If he sticks with it he can get back on track. In the meantime, myself and the coach, we need to do anything we can to help our team win games, so it’s a tough spot for him.”
Yzerman fixed a similar goaltending issue last year…by acquiring Roloson. Now that trade seems like a patchwork solution at best; Roloson’s 42 years old, struggling mightily and the current trade market isn’t exactly flush with No. 1 netminders ready to start for a team with (high) playoff aspirations.
Yzerman is doing all he can to correct the problem. Dustin Tokarski’s rumored to be recalled from AHL Norfolk (where he posted a 9-5-0 record with a 1.94 GAA and .918 save percentage) and Yzerman’s rumored to still be working the phones for a goaltending upgrade. But the names that keep popping up — Evgeni Nabokov, Scott Clemmensen — aren’t exactly enthralling and the prized young backups (Cory Schneider, Jonathan Bernier, Tuukka Rask, Anders Lindback) would cost a fortune.
In the end, he might simply have to hope Roloson finds his form — something head coach Guy Boucher has faith in.
“We know his game can be (better) and I think it will, he just needs to make sure his attitude remains a positive one, and it has been,” he told the Tampa Tribune. “There are not many issues. He’s just having a tough time. I still have confidence that he will find his way back. He’s very professional and he can’t care more than that.”