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Thursday Wire Watch: Panthers waive Steve Bernier, Lightning call Mike Smith up

Feb 24, 2011, 4:55 PM EDT

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Mike Smith

During pre-trade deadline week, waiver wire moves can take on extra meaning at times. Not always, mind you, but sometimes they are a hint at a future move, evidence of the ripple effect of roster moves or just the typical sign of a player who has fallen out of favor with his franchise.

Two Southeast Division teams had players potentially go different ways on Thursday, as the Florida Panthers put winger Steve Bernier on waivers while the Tampa Bay Lightning called goalie Mike Smith back up on re-entry waivers.

Bernier connected to Keith Ballard trade: It’s hard to ignore the fact that the Panthers waived the two roster players Florida received in the Ballard trade: (current Calder Trophy dark horse) Michael Grabner and Bernier. Then again, as George Richards writes, many look at the move as a “salary dump.” By that logic, the Panthers still got what they really wanted: money and the 25th pick, which ended up being Quinton Howden.

Smith on re-entry waivers: While Bernier will be associated with the Ballard trade, Smith’s fate with the Lightning can be traced to two trades now. First, there’s that epic Brad Richards trade that brought Smith to Tampa Bay (speaking of salary dumps). Now there’s the Lightning moving Dan Ellis to Anaheim in exchange for Curtis McElhinney. We’ll see if anyone wants to take on half of what’s left of his $2.4 million salary to give Smith a shot, but my guess is that he’ll serve as a backup for Dwayne Roloson while McElhinney goes to the minors.

Anyway, those are today’s two notable waiver wire moves. We’ll keep you abreast as the league transactions heat up as Monday’s deadline approaches.

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