At some point, the Lightning must make a decision about Dustin Tokarski. It has to know if the organization's top goaltending prospect is ready for the NHL.
If Dwayne Roloson doesn't find his game — and soon — the timing for Tokarski's trial by fire might be accelerated. General manager Steve Yzerman could call him up from AHL Norfolk for a look.
The callup wouldn't need to be long, a few games perhaps, but enough to give Yzerman a sense of where Tokarski is with his development. It also would give Mathieu Garon a break if he must continue carrying the burden as the de facto No. 1.
This clearly would be a secondary plan.
If Yzerman decides he must make a move in net, certainly he would rather trade for an established goalie, as he did last season when he acquired Roloson from the Islanders.
But getting a goalie is difficult, especially this early in the season, when most teams still are in the playoff hunt and not yet looking to shed players they might not be able to sign for next season.
Getting Roloson on Jan. 1 was a bit of a fluke; New York already was out of contention.
Tokarski, 22, faced an important season this year after missing almost all of training camp with a persistent abdominal injury sustained last season that took two MRI exams to determine it did not require surgery.
He has proved up to the task and entered Saturday 9-6-0 with a 2.09 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .912 save percentage in his previous 14 games.
The danger is that Tokarski comes up, plays poorly and loses confidence. It is a weak argument. If he is going to play in the league, he will have to face the pressure at some point. Besides, Tokarski last season played in relief twice for Tampa Bay and had a 4.19 goals-against average and an .813 save percentage.
Somehow his psyche survived.
As for the Lightning, it knows it will be in the market for a No. 1 for next season. Roloson, 42, will not be back.
How does Tokarski fit in? Perhaps we're close to finding out.