When Steve Yzerman traded for Dwayne Roloson at the beginning of this year, there were more than a few skeptics, and for good reason.
Coming into this season, the Lightning were a team that was viewed as having a 1-1a tandem in net. Dan Ellis was coming off a great year last year in which he wrestled the starting job away from Pekka Rinne in Nashville. Teaming him up with the generally reliable Mike Smith made it appear as though the Bolts were going to be solid between the pipes.
Then the injury bug hit, and Mike Smith went down. It became obvious even before then that Ellis wasn’t the same goalie when taken away from the suffocating defense of the PRedators, and it became clear that a new goalie would have to enter the mix. That’s when Yzerman went out and got someone no one thought was a fantastic idea: Dwayne Roloson.
The 41 year old Roloson has been a career hockey player, being shipped up and down throughout his career. He didn’t play a full season in the NHL until the 2001-2002 season with the Wild. Always a hard worker and lauded as a great locker room presence, Yzerman saw something few others did: that he was about to catch fire.
And catch fire he did. Since being traded to the Lightning, Roloson has played in 25 games with a 14-9 record. He has registered a .910 save percentage and a 2.57 goals against average. Most importantly, he has stepped up and taken over the starting position.
Roloson started off his time with the Lightning with a 1-0 shutout against the Washington Capitals. He has continuously delivered when needed, and while he has his gaffes, he isn’t exactly playing behind a defensive juggernaut. The Lightning give up a ton of chances, and more often than not Roloson is there is answer the call.
It turned out the Lightning didn’t need a superstar between the pipes: they just needed someone who would consistently get the job done. That is exactly what Roloson has been doing, without much flair.
Since trades are both ways, they sent defensive prospect Ty Wishart to the New York Islanders in the exchange. This trade has worked out in his favor as well, as he went to a team with a shallow defensive core. Projected to be a blueliner who can bring points from the back end, he could really turn out to be a good pickup for the Isles. He has a goal and 4 points in 13 games for New York this year.
Some were skeptical of Yzerman’s early moves as a rookie GM. He was aggressive, and it wasn’t clear whether that would turn out in his favor or if it would come back to bite him. At least on the Roloson front, it turned out to be a resounding success as Yzerman continues to establish himself as a front office presence.