(You know why we drag these out all summer? 'Cause August is a rocky place, where easy blog seeds can find no purchase.)
With Brendan Witt's time as an Islander officially complete, thankfully we have at least one more season of Dwayne Roloson's no-nonsense dry-wit post-game interviews to fill the void. Dwayne Roloson just wants to play the game (every game, if possible) and not be asked questions -- at least not dumb ones. I've gotta respect that. (While it's every NHLer's job to field the queries -- and he fields them fine -- it's fair to expect the queries to consist of more than, "How did it feel to win/lose/get that shutout/win after losing/end that streak?")
Roloson was signed at the beginning of Free Agency Fest 2009, the perfect bridge -- thanks to age and ability -- between rehab-era DiPietro and whichever goalie would take the reins in the post-DiPietro rehab era, be it #39 himself or one of the Isles' growing number of prospects. Goalie who can still deliver near age 40 meets team that needs a quality goalie without long-term aspirations. Thus a match was made.
Take the tour after the jump, then issue your grade in the poll.
#30 / Goalie / New York Islanders
Oct 12, 1969
1 more year at $3M ($2.5M cap hit)
"Please don't decline just yet ol' feller."
As discussed in Friday's Isles league-ranking post and comments, Roloson delivered a fairly impressive year, though it was hindered in sections by the early season rotation with Martin Biron (who convincingly lost the battle for #1) and the late-season rotation with a returning Rick DiPietro and the briefly resurrected Biron.
Hockey Card Stats
There were a lot of goalies with better stats than Roloson last year -- either a higher save percentage or a lower GAA -- but few played in front of a weaker defense. The Islanders allowed 31.9 shots per game, seventh-most in the league. Roloson faced about 32.2 shots/60 minutes, and despite only playing in 50 games, Roloson's shots-against total of 1555 was in the range of other goalies who played 58-63 games.
|18 (+7 OT/SO)
The 2009 Free Agent Decision
If you take the numbers at face value, of six other free agent goalies last summer (Craig Anderson, Scott Clemmensen, Ray Emery, Manny Legace, Nikolai Khabibulin, Antero Niittymaki) only Anderson and Nifty Niittymaki both played full seasons and had better hockey-card numbers. (The other four were injury casualties and/or backups.)
Personally, while I yearned for Anderson last summer -- and my goodness he had an insane season -- I also never thought there could realistically be a match with the Isles. Anderson was a guy looking for an opportunity to grab a long-term #1 job -- something the Islanders couldn't offer with DiPietro's situation still unclear. (In contrast, Roloson came with his own built-in expiration date, which makes things much less awkward when your injured starter has a 15-year contract.) Niifftty Niittymaki, meanwhile, was just as much of an injury risk as Emery, Khabibulin and Legace. While he survived the year in Tampa Bay, that would have been a double-health gamble for Snow.
All told, Snow chose wisely. Roloson was by far the best Islanders goalie last year, was one of the best free agent performers, and if you buy into the argument that the Biron-DiPietro rotation dampened his form and hence his stats in October and January (I do), he is poised to be that or better this season, provided Father Time doesn't suddenly wake up and decide Roloson should not enter the aged air of Dominik Hasek or Jacques Plante.
Hockey's 'The People Demand a Winner' Sideshow
In the shootout, Roloson overcame some alarming early-season struggles (remember how ugly his first two shootouts were?), finishing with a 5-5 record and .615 save pct. in the shootout -- which is not stellar but is also, in this small sample, a few ticks better than heralded Panthers keeper Tomas Vokoun.
As long as the NHL decrees that half a regulation win shall be awarded through this method, that bears watching.
[Melody if you please]
You can run on for a long time
Stop pucks for a long time
Glove save for a long time
Sooner or later God'll cut you down
Hockey gods'll try to cut you down
But...you got a late start on your pro career
Those jobs are few and held so dear
You paid your dues, waited on and on
Backed up younger men who been and gone
Maybe nobody gonna cut you down
Not just yet will they cut you down
Hasek played at 40 didn't look so bad
Beezer played at 38 and it was sad
DP's only 28 but we can't say
In you come at 40 to save the day
Hope they wait before they cut you down
Hope they wait before they cut you down
You can stop pucks for a long time
Keep your mileage low for a long time
Keep your body fit for a long time
Someone comes, try to cut you down
This year we won't let 'em cut you down
We pray nobody come and cut you down
Here we ask you to give your grade in the poll based on your preseason expectations. The words after the poll options are mostly jest, the numbers themselves not. If you thought Roloson was done but he surprised you, you give grade him well above average. If you thought he was a superstar but found him to be lacking, you grade below average. And so on. Elaborate or bring up other material in comments as you see fit.