Dwayne Roloson pays immediate dividends
It didn't take long for Dwayne Roloson to fit right in with the Lightning. One game, one shutout. Against the Capitals, no less. The new Lightning goalie, in the mind of many, has turned the Bolts from a playoff-bubble team into one that could do some damage in the postseason. Roloson took a mediocre Oilers team to the Stanley Cup final in 2006 and, if he can play the way he has of late, should help end the Lightning's three-year playoff drought. Of course, this is assuming Steven Stamkos and the Lightning's blue line can stay away from major injuries in the second half. Anyway, noodling around on the interwebs, I came across this blog post from one of ESPN's excellent hockey writers, Scott Burnside. This was written four days before Roloson was traded to the Lightning:
Because most of the news from Long Island this season has been miserable, it's been easy to overlook what could be a compelling storyline as the weeks tick toward the Feb. 28 trade deadline. Although many have assumed that Florida netminder Tomas Vokoun will attract most of the attention from teams looking to shore up their goaltending down the stretch, we give you the indestructible Dwayne Roloson.
If Chris Chelios had been a goaltender, he'd have been Roloson. At age 41, Roloson has quietly turned in one of the most compelling netminding performances in recent memory. He is 5-13 (one of his losses was in a shootout) yet has managed to turn in a save percentage of .920, ranking 10th among goalies who have played at least 1,000 minutes, and a more-than-respectable 2.38 goals against average. The native of Simcoe, Ontario, has won three straight, allowing just one goal in each of those games and facing 109 shots total in the three wins for the lowly Isles. He was also named one of the NHL's three stars for the week ending Dec. 26.
No doubt NHL GMs are taking note of Roloson's renaissance campaign on Long Island.
Roloson makes $3 million this season, but his cap hit is just $2.5 million. Compare that to Vokoun, who, like Roloson, can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer. Vokoun makes $6.3 million this season with a cap hit of $5.7 million and is playing for a significantly better defensive team than the Islanders.
So, if you're Washington GM George McPhee and you're secretly wondering about bringing in a nice veteran presence for the playoffs, Roloson has to look pretty darned attractive. Stay tuned.
Based on that, it appears Lightning GM Steve Yzerman likely beat several teams to the punch, giving Lightning fans even more reason to believe that owner Jeff Vinik made did the right thing luring Yzerman away from the Red Wings. Check out this comment from Jeff Gordon, another knowledgeable hockey guy from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
First Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman swung a deal for goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who delivered a shutout during his first game for Tampa Bay. Then he landed power-play specialist Marc-Andre Bergeron, signing the veteran offensive defenseman to a free-agent deal. Yzerman, the long-time Red Wings superstar, is making quite a mark during his first season running the Lightning hockey operation. He made two big moves well in advance of the trade deadline and enhanced his team’s chances of making a big playoff run. The veteran Roloson could make all the difference in goal.