On Saturday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson from the Islanders to help solidify the goaltending situation. Defenseman Ty Wishart went the other way in the trade.
As the Bolts head into the second half as the surprise leaders of the division, how much of an impact will the 41-year-old netminder make in the long run?
When you look at sheer statistics, Roloson has the edge over Dan Ellis and Mike Smith. ‘Roli’ boasted 2.64 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 games with the woeful Islanders; both Ellis and Smith have GAA’s above 3.00, along with save percentages below .890.
Not many people know how much gas is left in Roloson’s tank. Though he is 41, he has continued to prove those doubters wrong. In his last five games on Long Island, Roloson was a brick wall. He faced an average of 40.4 shots in those games, winning four of them.
It has also helped that he has been in a platooning role with the Isles, meaning he hasn’t been starting upwards of 60 games. He could have a similar workload in Tampa Bay, possibly rotating with Ellis and/or Smith.
The Lightning have allowed the third-most goals in the NHL this season, making you wonder how good they’d really be with premier goaltending. Roloson doesn’t fall under that category, but he’s certainly an upgrade over what they had without him.
The biggest difference Roloson could make on a high-scoring club like the Lightning is in the playoffs. Everyone remembers his postseason run back in 2006 with the eighth-seeded Oilers; ‘Roli’ got them to the finals before breaking his leg in Game 1 against Carolina. He made countless big saves in key moments, and many people still argue that Edmonton would have won the Cup if Roloson hadn’t gone down.
This is where Guy Boucher has to use Roloson correctly in the regular season. We all know that still has the ability to steal games, but will he have enough energy to do so in April if Boucher makes him the regular starter?
Tampa Bay has 43 games left (including tonight's tilt in Washington), and they’d be smart to play Roloson in 25 of those (30 at the most). Because if Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and the high-powered Bolts can get solid goaltending when the games matter, this could be a dangerous team come playoff time.
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