In a surprising move this afternoon, the Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that they have traded AHL goaltender Dustin Tokarski to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.
As per Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, the move was made to solidify AHL goaltending which General Manager Steve Yzerman has believed to be sub-par this season:
Yzerman says basically bringing in Desjardins is about having a better quality guy in the event of injury or call up to Lindback or Garon
— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) February 14, 2013
Tokarksi was believed to be the goaltender of the future for the Tampa Bay Lightning. At 23 years old, the presumed plan was to continue to groom the young goalie in the AHL until either he or Riku Helenius was available to take over full time NHL duties next season when Mathieu Garon's contract is up.
However, it is important to remember that Yzerman has no real attachment to Tokarski. He was an inherited player, not one Yzerman sought out to acquire like Helenius or Lindback, or, in this case, Desjardins.
Tokarski was drafted in the 5th round, 122nd overall in 2008 when Jay Feaster was still the GM of the club.
After winning the Calder Cup a season ago with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL, Tokarski has disappointed some this season. He holds an 18-8-4 record for the Syracuse Crunch with a 2.46 GAA and .900 save percentage.
Perhaps more importantly, however, is that Tokarski has not impressed in limited NHL action, where he has a career 1-3-1 record with a 3.54 GAA.
Via Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times:
GM Yzerman said trade for Desjardins was because in case of injury to Lindback or Garon "we weren't comfortable with our options right now."
— Damian Cristodero (@LightningTimes) February 14, 2013
Lindback is currently battling an illness and it is believed Desjardins was acquired in part as a potential call-up that the organization feels more comfortable with in net at the NHL level.
Desjardins appeared in two games for the Lightning in 2010-2011, going 2-0-0 with a .968 save percentage.
While it is an admittedly small sample size, his performance in those two games left many fans scratching their heads when he wasn't re-signed in the offseason.
While his tenure as GM has been marked by a slow and measured approach to asset acquisition and player development, this is truly the first move made by Yzerman that seems to indicate a desire to win now.
Desjardins is expected to report to Syracuse immediately and will tandem with Riku Helenius for the foreseeable future. It would appear that the competition for the second NHL goalie spot alongside Anders Lindback is wide open for 2013-2014 with Tokarski out of the picture.
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