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Tampa Bay waives goalie Mike Smith; Do Isles clear up Nabokov mess with him?

Feb 2, 2011, 1:15 PM EDT

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Things are going so well in Tampa Bay with Dwayne Roloson that they feel comfortable enough to put one of their other goalies on waivers. No Internet fans, it’s not Dan Ellis. The often injured Mike Smith was placed on waivers today by the Lightning meaning that they feel comfortable enough with Roloson and Ellis to go with them the rest of the way.

To be more accurate, you’d have to say they feel more comfortable with Roloson carrying the Lightning the rest of this season and into the playoffs. For Smith, this pretty much ends his time in Tampa Bay, a time that started with a lot of promise after coming over from Dallas. Instead, Smith was constantly beset by injuries keeping him out of the lineup and unreliable as a starter.

Of course, with him on waivers the questions now arise as to who might be interested and if there’s ever been a team that’s had an affinity for oft-injured goaltenders it’s the New York Islanders. All right, cheap shot to Rick DiPietro aside the Islanders have their own headaches in goal in not having an NHL-experienced backup for DiPietro. They tried to rectify that by claiming Evgeni Nabokov on waivers, but Nabokov refuses to report to the team and the Islanders have suspended him for that.

The Isles could end that whole fiasco themselves by claiming Smith from Tampa Bay and plugging him in to split time with DiPietro for the rest of the season. Smith is in the final year of a deal that’s paying him $2.2 million this season against the cap. The pro rated cost of that for the rest of this season would be of minimal impact to the Isles.

It would also ensure that injury concerns would surround the Isles crease the rest of the season as well as put an end to wondering if they’ll see Nabokov come in at all this season. While the Isles would lose leverage in the situation with the Russian netminder, they could also then figure out a way to part ways with him and be rid of the whole side show.

The Isles might be wise to do that unless they’re looking to toll Nabokov’s deal until next season then forcing him into a one-year deal on the cheap with them next year. Then again, if the Isles were serious about getting an experienced goalie in there so Kevin Poulin could go back to the AHL and get his time in there it’s a virtual no-brainer to grab Smith and stop wondering about Nabokov.

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