For the second time this trade season, we’ve had two teams swap goalies. This time, though, it is two teams who are in playoff contention, and they are swapping their backup netminders and first-string face-off charters.
The Anaheim Ducks made news about a month ago when it was rumored that they were trying to bring Ray Emery back into the NHL. Emery hasn’t played a full NHL season since 2007 due to a myriad of injuries.
This move was a very clear indication into the stability of their goaltending situation. When healthy, Jonas Hiller is among the best in the league. However, he is so overworked due to Anaheim’s lack of faith in backup Curtis Mcelhinney that Hiller has been placed on the injured reserve a number of times with exhaustion.
Just today it was announced that he may be suffering from vertigo. Vertigo is the feeling of dizziness while one is stationary that is also sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting. While Hiller has been out, the Ducks and Mcelhinney have been getting shelled, including allowing 9 to the Blues.
Clearly, Anaheim needed to do something with their goaltending situation if they are serious about their pursuit for the Cup. Ray Emery might be the answer if Hiller isn’t able to recover, but that’s a huge risk, and that leaves you very, very thin on the depth chart behind him.
With Ellis, the Ducks get a guy who has had some success as a starter in the league, including a stellar 2008 season with Nashville that saw him post 23 wins, 6 shutouts, a 2.34 GAA and a .924 SV%. The Ducks are definitely getting the better end of this deal if we are strictly looking at it from a talent standpoint.
What Tampa Bay gets in this deal, besides Curtis Mcelhinney, is about a million dollars in cap space this year, and a million and a half next year. Dan Ellis is making $1.5M this and next year, while Mcelhinney’s $535,000 contract expires this July 1st. That extra money saved could go a long way to help Tampa Bay improve their team at this year’s deadline as well as in the summer for next season.
The only issue with the deal that I see for Tampa Bay is that their top three goalies (Roloson, Mcelhinney and Mike Smith) have their contracts expiring this summer.
Mcelhinney will most likely be let go, as he is not a viable option as a team’s permanent backup in my opinion.
Smith, who came in with so much promise (he was the big piece returning to Tampa Bay in the deal that sent Brad Richards to Dallas), has been relegated to the AHL due to his poor performance.
Roloson is going to be 42 when the next NHL season starts. However, he and others like him have proven that age is just a number, so he very well could be back for another season with the Lightning. Of the three, I’d say he is the most likely candidate to wind up as Tampa’s starting netminder in 2011-2012.
Tampa doesn’t really have anyone in the minors who seems ready to take over the starting job just yet, so if it’s not Roloson, then help will have to come through free agency or a trade, and Steve Yzerman has definitely opened up the cap space to bring in a top-flight goaltender – perhaps Tomas Vokoun or Ilya Bryzgalov, both of whom are UFA on July 1st.
I would not be at all surprised if Yzerman uses his newly acquired cap space to make a splash in the goaltending market this summer.