TAMPA — The Lightning on Wednesday addressed its three-goalie glut before it became an issue by placing Mike Smith on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to AHL Norfolk.
It will be known at noon today if he clears or is claimed.
"He needs to play," GM Steve Yzerman said. "Having three goaltenders here, we don't want to go to any kind of rotation. If Smitty gets claimed, good for him. If he doesn't, he goes down and plays for us down there."
The move has several facets.
At its root, Tampa Bay decided to go with Dan Ellis as Dwayne Roloson's backup.
Paying Smith the rest of his $2.4 million salary to play in the minors likely wasn't its first choice. But Smith, out since Dec. 20 with a sprained left knee, proved during last week's conditioning stint with Norfolk he is healthy. And despite denials all around, having three goalies on the roster would be awkward.
Add that Norfolk G Cedrick Desjardins could be out for the season with a shoulder injury that might need surgery and an opening needs to be filled.
It might end up being a showcase for Smith, 28, who could be traded or claimed on recall waivers before becoming an unrestricted free agent after the season. Yzerman has said he is looking at trades to clean up the three-goalie situation.
Smith was "quiet" when told the plan, Yzerman said. "There's not much he can say."
Smith, who practiced and left the St. Pete Times Forum before the news broke, did not respond to a text message
"I think we've managed it the best we could," coach Guy Boucher said. "The reality is we got a goaltender through a trade (Roloson) who's proven why we got him, which means less space for the other guys."
"We don't take these things lightly," Boucher added. "Players are not numbers for us. We care. It's important whatever we do, we try to find the best possible option for the team but also for the individual with the circumstances we're facing."
DESJARDINS UPDATE: Desjardins, in town to consult with Tampa Bay's medical staff, will return to Norfolk to get an opinion from his doctor before deciding on surgery or rehabilitation for his injured right shoulder, Yzerman said.
The question is whether the injury is new or an old one that was aggravated. Yzerman declined to be specific. It is known Desjardins had a previous labrum tear.
If the injury can be rehabilitated, Desjardins, 14-6-1 with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage, might play again this season, Yzerman said:
"We'll make the right decision. It will just take a little longer."
MORE INJURIES: D Mattias Ohlund (knee), held out of the last 9:39 of Tuesday's win over the Flyers, did not practice. Asked if he could sit out a game or two, he said, "We're hoping not to get to that point." ... D Mike Lundin (groin/abdomen) said, "Once I'm playing, I'm fine."
PRACTICE SQUADS: Practice was split into three sessions — defense, bottom two lines, top two lines — to give small groups of players targeted attention.
"These guys need a lot of work on the little things and fundamentals," Boucher said. "They're smart with the team system, but with individual technique and tactics, you'd be surprised at how much work they need."
At one point Boucher worked with only C Vinny Lecavalier and LW Simon Gagne on bending their knees when they shoot.
Assistants Wayne Fleming and Marty Raymond worked with right wings Steve Downie and Teddy Purcell on getting passes from corners to the slot past a defender.
"Throughout the year, practices are so limited, you're always working on team concepts," Purcell said. "It's great to mix it up and work on individual skills."