TAMPA — With Mike Smith back from a two-game conditioning stint with AHL Norfolk, the Lightning has three goaltenders on the roster, including No. 1 Dwayne Roloson and Dan Ellis.
GM Steve Yzerman said Tuesday he is hunting for a trade ahead of the Feb. 28 deadline — "I'm talking to teams every day, exploring options to see who has an interest or a need" — but might end up sending Smith or Ellis to AHL Norfolk.
"It is an option," he said. "Ideally, we want our guys playing. It doesn't do any of the guys any good to sit here not playing."
Yzerman said he is in no rush to make a move. "I'm going to let the situation evolve a little bit and see how it goes," he said.
Even so, "At some point goalies need to play," he said. "I don't want to keep guys around who aren't playing … so at some point we're probably going to have to make a decision on what we want to do."
Part of that decision could hinge on Norfolk G Cedrick Desjardins, out with a right shoulder injury and in town to consult with medical director Ira Guttentag and head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan.
Yzerman said an MRI exam showed damage. A decision on surgery might be made today. If Desjardins is out long term, it would create an opening for Smith or Ellis to fill. Both would have to clear waivers.
"It's a real possibility," Ellis said of a transaction. "But you can scenario yourself to death. It's easy to say this could happen, this could happen, but it rests in their hands. I'd rather let Steve and coach (Guy Boucher) wrestle with those things."
Said Smith: "I'm done answering questions about three goalies. It is what it is. Whenever I get an opportunity to play, take advantage. Whenever I get a chance, I'm just going to be ready to go."
MANAGING: Ellis backed up Roloson against the Flyers. Smith is Roloson's likely backup Friday against the Capitals.
"I don't think it will be hard for me to choose who is in net on a particular night," Boucher said. "It will be harder for me to choose who's going to back up."
Boucher said he will do his best to "make it not awkward."
"It's always about making it as honest as possible without losing anybody," he said. "If it's going to be a certain goalie going to play, he's going to know, and the other goalie will know. They'll have to share whatever is left."
Ellis said there is no room for hurt feelings: "What's the sense of getting all upset and hurting the team? It's about being a team player. You have to put everything selfish aside."
INJURIES: W Ryan Malone missed his third straight game with a mid-body injury sustained Jan. 21 against the Panthers. Malone said he had a good off-ice workout Monday but still had pain Tuesday during his first skate since being hurt. … D Mattias Ohlund during the All-Star break had fluid drained from his left knee, hit by a puck during the Jan. 25 victory over the Maple Leafs. He played only four third-period shifts against the Flyers and did not play the final 9:39. … Smith said though his sprained left knee is "ready to go," he will wear a brace the rest of the season "just to mentally have a little more stability."
NEW JOBS: The Lightning this week will announce management positions for two organization icons. Team founder Phil Esposito will be vice president for corporate affairs. Former captain Dave Andreychuk will be vice president for fan and business development.
ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning has outscored teams 13-1 in the first three games of its 12-game homestand. … RW Teddy Purcell has his first two-goal game. … Tampa Bay killed four penalties for 22 straight at home. … D Randy Jones' assist on Steve Downie's goal was his first point in 17 games. … To break the monotony of the homestand, the Lightning this month might hold a practice or two in Estero, where it shares an ECHL affiliate with Carolina. … F Mattias Ritola also was scratched.