New York Islanders might supply Tampa Bay Lightning with a goalie — again

It is one year to the day since the Lightning acquired goaltender Dwayne Roloson from the Islanders in one of two trades that changed its 2010-11 season.

Funny, then, the team again is looking for a goalie and again the most reasonable name, Evgeni Nabokov, is with the Islanders.

It should be stressed that as bad as the numbers are for Tampa Bay's goaltenders, they have not gotten much help from a defense that has been hurt by the absence of injured veteran Mattias Ohlund and is not as quick or consistent as needed.

That is not to let Roloson and Mathieu Garon off the hook. You don't have one of the league's worst goals-against averages if the goalies are doing their jobs.

So what are the pluses and minuses of acquiring Nabokov?

• He would be cheap with an annual salary of $570,000 prorated over whatever portion of the season remains.

• He would be motivated. Nabokov, 36, is probably looking for one more good contract on next summer's free agent market.

• He would give Tampa Bay flexi­bility in that it will not be locked into a contract for next season.

• Nabokov can play. Even in 14 games (13 starts) for lowly New York, he is 4-8 with a 2.46 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. Tampa Bay's combined numbers are 3.13 and .896.

The downside?

• The Islanders can sit back and wait for the price to go up as teams get more desperate.

• Nabokov has had a nagging groin problem this season.

• It has been a while since Nabokov played regularly. Since playing 71 games for the Sharks in 2009-10, Nabokov, because of contract disputes and injuries, has played just 36, including 22 in 2010-11 for St. Petersburg of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.

• While Nabokov has kicked butt during the regular season — he is 297-186-51 with 29 ties, 50 shutouts, a 2.39 goals-against average and .912 save percentage — he never led some very talented Sharks teams to the Stanley Cup final in nine trips to the playoffs.

Then again, the way the Lightning is going, the playoffs might not even be a consideration.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

New York Islanders might supply Tampa Bay Lightning with a goalie — again 12/31/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:47pm]

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