TAMPA — It wasn't long ago that Dustin Tokarski was the Lightning's top goaltending prospect, with the NHL in his future.
But Tokarski was traded Thursday to the Canadiens for G Cedrick Desjardins, with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman saying he was not satisfied with Tokarski or Riku Helenius, Tokarski's teammate at AHL Syracuse, as the organization's No. 3 goalie.
"In the event we needed to recall a goalie due to injury, we weren't comfortable with our options," Yzerman said. "With Cedrick, we're more comfortable. … He's ready to do that."
That is a stinging rebuke of Tokarski and Helenius, who have combined for a 2.73 goals-against average and a .890 save percentage while going 27-16-4 but losing eight of their past 11 games.
Tokarski, a 2008 fifth-round draft pick and in the final year of his contract, is 18-8-4 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. Helenius has a one-way contract in 2013-14 that pays $650,000.
"Our goaltending in Syracuse hasn't been up to par," Yzerman said. "We want to give our team the best opportunity to make the playoffs."
Desjardins, 27, was with the Lightning organization during the 2010-11 season, when he was 15-6-1 for AHL Norfolk with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. He also won two games for Tampa Bay.
He was not re-signed because of a shoulder injury that needed surgery, and this season he was 7-13-2 for AHL Hamilton with a 2.94 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.
Yzerman said the shoulder "hasn't been an issue."
Desjardins is well-known to Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher, who coached him at Rimouski of the junior Quebec league and in 2009-10 at Hamilton.
For Tokarski, the drop has been precipitous.
He helped AHL Norfolk to last season's Calder Cup title and also helped Canada to the 2009 world junior championship. But Tokarski was mediocre in five games last season for Tampa Bay, and with prospects Andrey Vasilevskiy and Jaroslav Janus progressing in Europe, Tokarski was expendable.
"We wish him good luck," Yzerman said. "He was a good player for us. He gets an opportunity in a new organization. After four years, maybe that's a good thing for him."
SICK BAY: Mathieu Garon started in net and made 35 saves against the Capitals because Anders Lindback was sick.
Lindback was the backup but did not sit on the bench during the game. He was in the training room. "We were trying to keep him away from the players," Boucher said.
MINOR MOVES: Little-used D Brendan Mikkelson and RW Pierre-Cedric Labrie were sent to Syracuse on conditioning assignments with a two-week maximum.
ODDS AND ENDS: Lightning RW B.J. Crombeen played in his 300th NHL game. … NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer was at the game. … D Marc-Andre Bergeron was scratched.