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Goalie Dwayne Roloson, 41, could return to Tampa Bay Lightning next season

Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, right, makes one of his 29 saves against the Wild on Saturday with this stop on Brent Burns in the third period of a 3-1 win. Budget constraints could make Roloson, who turns 42 in October, the Lightning’s best option for next season, too.

Associated Press

Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, right, makes one of his 29 saves against the Wild on Saturday with this stop on Brent Burns in the third period of a 3-1 win. Budget constraints could make Roloson, who turns 42 in October, the Lightning’s best option for next season, too.

You might want to get used to seeing Dwayne Roloson in a Lightning uniform, because all things being equal, and if things can be worked out, there is a good chance the 41-year-old goaltender will be back next season.

Yes, this summer was the one in which Tampa Bay, going into the second year of a rebuilding project under general manager Steve Yzerman, was to land its great white free agent whale.

But circumstances might dictate a shorter-term approach.

First, there won't be that many free agent goalie options. If they don't re-sign, Florida's Tomas Vokoun would top the list, followed by Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov, though both likely would be too expensive.

Tampa Bay has $10 million tied up in Vinny Lecavalier next season, and with Steven Stamkos' new contract coming, managing the salary cap and payroll is going to be tricky for a team not raising ticket prices.

After Vokoun and Bryzgalov, the fall is precipitous or the talent unproven, though Ottawa's Curtis McElhinney certainly has looked good against his former team. Kidding, of course.

Roloson might be a good way to bridge the gap. He likely will not be as expensive, he certainly is capable, and he wants to stay.

"Yeah, if it's an option," Roloson said. "If the opportunity comes to sign here, it's something I'd like to look at."

A lot has to happen before we get to that point. Yzerman will have to evaluate Roloson in the playoffs and weigh Roloson's contract expectations with his age. No matter how well Roloson plays, he will be 42 next season, and Tampa Bay would not want to get locked in to anything long term.

"If I could, I'd like to play three or four more years," Roloson said. "But it's more what my body says, and my body feels great, no nagging injuries or anything."

That's more than can be said for AHL Norfolk goalie Cedrick Desjardins, who seemed to be in line for the Lightning's backup job next season but has created durability questions by reinjuring the right shoulder that has bothered him since mid January.

It will be interesting to see what happens when free agency opens in July.

Goalie Dwayne Roloson, 41, could return to Tampa Bay Lightning next season 04/02/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 3, 2011 1:15pm]
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