NHL Free Agents 2012: Tampa Bay Lightning Need More Than a Goalie This Offseason
When Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman originally acquired aging netminder Dwayne Roloson on New Year's day of last season from the New York Islanders as a rental player, many wondered if Yzerman was making a big enough improvement in the crease to improve his Lightning's squad.
Yzerman would end up looking like a mastermind of a GM when Roloson would go on to record four shutouts in his first 11 games for Tampa Bay, and ultimately lead them all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, where they would come up short against the eventual champion Boston Bruins.
This season, however, was a different story for the now-42-year-old Simcoe, Ontario native.
In his 40 games for Tampa this season, Roloson posted a 13-16-1-1 record with a dismal 3.66 GAA and a disappointing .886 save percentage.
When backup Mathieu Garon also found himself struggling in the blue paint, Tampa Bay was forced to accept the fact that they weren't returning to the postseason in 2012.
After such a disastrous season on the back end, Yzerman appears to have no choice but to acquire a new goaltender that can bring Tampa Bay back to the postseason and potentially to the promised land of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The question many should be asking themselves this offseason, though, is whether a new goaltender is all this Lightning club needs or if the window of opportunity has already closed on Tampa Bay.
One would think with the likes of Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Teddy Purcell and of course the NHL's best goal scorer in Steven Stamkos the Lightning still have an abundance of firepower up front, and fixing the leak in net would surely ensure they are successful in 2012-2013.
Would you be satisfied if Steve Yzerman acquired a goalie and left the current team intact?
I, on the other hand, am not convinced.
There are a few factors playing against Tampa Bay moving forward.
First off, there's the concern that Lecavalier seems to have plateaued and his seen his production decline in each of his last two seasons (he's combined for just 103 points in his last two seasons).
Secondly, Tampa bay only has four defensemen signed for the 2012-2013 campaign, two of whom are Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund, who are well past their prime.
Finally, the Lightning seem to be an aging squad on the decline, more than an upstart team that just needs a goaltender to put them the over the top. With players like Ohlund (35), St. Louis (36), Malone (32) and Lecavalier (32) all at least 32 years of age (with all of them set to age by another year by the time next year's playoffs conclude), Tampa Bay may have more of an age problem on their hands than they think.
That list doesn't even include soon-to-be free agents Brett Clark, Garon and Roloson, who are all elder statesmen as well.
So if Tampa Bay is aiming to be a Stanley Cup contending team again in 2012-2013, they may need to make a few more moves than just signing a new goaltender this offseason.
I hear there are some pretty big names on the market who are in the prime of their careers hitting the market on July 1 (Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, anyone?) that the Lightning may be wise to use some of their (projected) $22 million in cap space on.
Do you think that Tampa Bay's team requires more than just a new goaltender to return to being the club that challenged for the Stanley Cup last season? Sound off in the comments section below!
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