A year after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning came back to earth in 2011-12. Their goaltending situation was a big reason for their step backward.
Dwayne Roloson, whom the Lightning traded for in 2010, was not the same standout goalie that helped the team come within a game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Instead, he started just 31 games this season with a 3.66 goals against average. His backup, Mathieu Garon, wasn't much sturdier between the pipes, either.
The goaltending situation was priority No. 1 for general manager Steve Yzerman this offseason, and he wasted no time upgrading the position, trading for former Nashville Predators backup Anders Lindback, a 2008 seventh-round pick.
Lindback has performed well in limited NHL action but will now have the pressure of being a starting goalie in the National Hockey League. Considering the hefty trade package the Lightning had to put together, expectations will be reasonably high for the 24-year-old Swede. But as is the case with any young goaltender, patience is required for the Lightning to reap the benefits from this trade.
Any goaltender changing teams needs time to adjust, and that's especially true of Lindback, who has never been an NHL starter. He will be changing conferences, playing in a new defensive system and living in a new area. He'll need time to adjust to his workload and surroundings before tapping into his full potential.
But the potential is huge for the 6-foot-7-inch goaltender. Lindback plays a similar style to Pekka Rinne, the Vezina-nominated goaltender he backed up in Nashville, and he learned a ton from Rinne and goalie coach Mitch Korn. He plays aggressively but has refined technique, making the most of his massive frame.
He doesn't have much starting experience, though, and has had injury trouble in the past. This move is more about Lindback's enormous potential than it is about what he has accomplished in his NHL career.
Lindback has proven in the past that he can adjust quickly. He transitioned smoothly to the NHL, and the Lightning hope he adapts to the starter's role in a hurry.
Tampa Bay could have made a push for Roberto Luongo or another veteran goaltender this offseason, but Lindback offers long-term stability between the pipes, something the franchise has lacked in recent years.
With a bit of patience, the Lightning will reap the benefits of this trade for years to come.
Thumbnail via Facebook/Anders Lindback
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