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Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman says he is sticking with his goalies, for now.



Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman on Wednesday, said he has spoken to Don Meehan, the agent for free-agent goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, but said the call was more informational than anything else, and he has no immediate plans to makes changes in net.

"I'm not prepared, today, to make a change in goal," Yzerman said. "The best scenario would be for our guys, who are good guys and are working extremely hard, to elevate their play and this is no longer an issue."

Let's read between the lines here, though.

First, Nabokov is not going to sign anywhere quickly, so there is no sense rushing into anything. Also, the Lightning is 16-10-4, so Yzerman surely feels he has some leeway before he must make a decision on his goalies. There's no timetable there, either. Decisions will be based purely on their performance and the team's record.

And as was explained in a previous post, there is so much uncertainty involved in signing Nabokov, it might not be worth the trouble. Remember, a team that signs the goalie will have to put him on waivers. And even if Nabokov agrees to a contract friendly to Tampa Bay, it likely would be attractive to another team as well, and one likely would put in a claim. The way to dissuade that is to sign Nabokov to a big contract that would scare away other suitors. The Lightning is in no position to do so.

Yzerman is much more likely to wait and see for what Nabokov signs and then evaluate putting in a waiver claim of his own.

Much more doable, and with a lot less uncertainty, would be to trade for a goaltender. Speculation about the Islanders' Dwayne Roloson has been percolating under the surface. He is 41 and an unrestricted free agent after the season, but Tampa Bay would only need him for a few months before addressing more permanently its goaltending situation, and he has a 2.67 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage playing on an awful team. Again, though, it sounds as if Smith and Ellis are going to get a chance to right the ship.

"Our goaltenders have a job to do," Yzerman said. "They're working hard to get better and improve, as are all our players. As long as they keep doing that, we just keep moving ahead."

Still, Yzerman's patience is not limitless. Again, just reading between the lines.

"I can't make any promises one way or another. 'I'm going to do this or that,' he said. "All I can say is every day I'm looking at opportunities that may present themselves to improve the team and if any opportunity at any position improves the team, I would have to consider it. But do I have anything I'm planning to do today? No. I don't have anything I'm planning to do today."

Other stuff from the morning skate: Captain Vinny Lecavalier wore the red jersey again at the morning skate. But the X-rays and tests he was supposed to get Tuesday were pushed back a day. He looked good on the ice. His shooting actually looked better than it did during the season. Perhaps because his injured right knuckle has been fixed. While it still sounded as if he would miss tonight's game against the Thrashers, I don't think anyone would be shocked to see him in the lineup. ... Mike Smith gets the start in net. ... Forward Mattias Ritola on Monday did not get an injection directly into his ear as planned to combat his Meniere's disease, which causes dizziness and ringing in his right ear. He said he took a new medication in pill form instead. He said it will take five days before he knows if it is working. A plane ride to New York next week should tell as well as the pressure associated with flight, especially going down, exacerbates his symptoms. "We'll try to figure something out so I can enjoy the flights, something I can take or put in my ear," said Ritola, who is expected to play Wednesday. ... Right wing Steve Downie, out two weeks with a right high ankle sprain, finally is out of a walking boot, but has no idea when he will be back in action or even skating. "They're kind of not giving me any hope right now," he said. "They're keeping it pretty restrictive. Hopefully, sooner than later." Downie said he originally told his injury would be out three or four weeks. We're at two weeks now. Sounds as if the longer view is more applicable.

[Last modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 12:15am]


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