Tampa Bay Lightning
22-year-old defenseman Ty Wishart (1st round, 16th overall for San Jose in 2006) to New York for 41-year-old goaltender Dwayne Roloson
Since Steve Yzerman took over the reins, I have generally been supportive of the Tampa Bay organization and the moves they have made. However, from the Bolt's perspective, I think the trade of defense prospect Ty Wishart for goaltender Dwayne Roloson was a poor move by Lightning management. The team's goaltending to date has been abysmal, with the Bolts logging a .890 save percentage, and that was before Roloson's two games where he posted a .912. However, based on the two goalies they were using and their career save percentages to dateDan Ellis having a .907 and Mike Smith a .905I would be surprised if one of them wouldn't have brought his save percentage up over .900 given regular playing time. And keep in mind that the asset they received isn't exactly an above average netminder. Most importantly, outside of Victor Hedman, the Lightning are very low on good, young defensemen in the organization, so dealing away possibly their best defensive prospect to find a patch-up at goalie is a move I'm not exactly crazy about. Brett Clark, Pavel Kubina and Mattias Ohlund are all in their low to mid 30's, so barring a sudden surge of young backend guys in their system, the Bolts in a few years may have to rely on external sources to acquire top four defense minutes, which is never a cheap option.
New York Islanders
41-year-old goaltender Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay for 22-year-old defenseman Ty Wishart (1st round, 16th overall for San Jose in 2006)
From the Islanders' perspective, I think this is a terrific move by the organization, and one that adds on to what may be one of the elite farm systems in the NHL. GM Garth Snow managed to deal an asset in a middling goaltender that is of abundance in the market. And at 41 years of age with an expiring contract, Roloson's value to the franchise past this year was likely nonexistent. For a rebuilding team, to get any form of semi-significant future value on a player like that is a win no matter how you look at it. In return they got a prospect of value in Ty Wishart that will be a welcome addition to an organization that is starting to build an above average foundation of young defensemen with players like Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald, Matt Donovan and Blake Kessel. Wishart is a big body defender at around 6'5", 200 lbs. who is a calm puck mover with good vision and above average hockey sense. In my viewings of him, Wishart would regularly make the right plays, and at times, above average passes when under heavy pressure from opposing checkers, making it seem effortless. He can get nice velocity on his shot and was featured regularly on the power play in the AHL for Norfolk before the trade. His only true weakness is his skating, which is fringe and at times looked even below that, as AHL forwards regularly turned him around. If not for his long reach and hockey IQ, I would be more concerned about that deficiency. My overall assessment is that Wishart has a shot to be a top four defender at the next level if his skating can get a notch better, but at worst, he can certainly be a guy who can man a second power play unit and be a third pairing defender.
The next step for the Islanders is to make sure they take this good group of young players they've compiled and not mess it up by forcing the issue and rushing the prospects to the NHL. Regardless of what was stated in the preseason by Islanders' ownership and management, this is a long term rebuild. Despite their poor attendance, the best thing for this team hockey-wise is to take the next 3-5 years and slowly start to piece the franchise back together even if it means more time outside the NHL for their top young players. Whether or not the franchise's financial condition or developmental philosophy will result all that possibility remains to be seen, but they have the pieces in place now to turn things around.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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