The Bolts next netminder is a shifting target
Yesterday's news that the Lightning have signed former 1st round pick Riku Helenius can be seen as a step in the right direction. Helenius adds depth to the Lightning system immediately, while the addition does not cost the Lightning anything more than financially.
Yet, the signing could be seen as changing the dynamics of who the team will chase to solidify the situation between the pipes.
As was noted last night, much of the speculation and chatter on Twitter of recent has revolved around Jonathan Bernier of the Los Angeles Kings. It's almost a flavor-of-the-month like choice, as previously the Lightning and their fans had been in pursuits of the likes of Ben Bishop and Cory Schneider. After Bishop's trade at the 2012 NHL deadline from the Blues to the Senators, fans and media agreed the target would now become Schneider.
But after Schneider took over the starting goaltending position for the Vancouver Canucks, Bolts fans have not embraced league-wide media speculation that Roberto Luongo Is the target GM Steve Yzerman is after, and eyes have turned to Bernier as goalie target #1.
Bernier has played a total of 48 NHL games in his career up to this point, and has one year remaining on his current contract. Should the Lightning be investing in him as a long-term answer after adding another goalie lacking in NHL experience of a similar age (Helenius)?
If the move was to happen - trading for Bernier - I'd actually assume Mathieu Garon would remain on the Lightning roster while prospect goalies Dustin Tokarski or Jaroslav Janus would be going back to LA in the deal. Garon is the only versed veteran with extensive experience who is under contract for 2012-13. If the Bolts would prefer to transition to the younger, less experienced netminders (Helenius, Bernier, other), they would benefit by having a stable hand as the projected starter to begin the season.
There's an alternative that won't please some Lightning faithful. Assuming Garon is traded to Los Angeles (or another trade partner for a different young goalie) and the Lightning lacked a veteran goalkeeper on the roster, the Bolts could opt to re-sign looming UFA Dwayne Roloson to a one-year deal. Roloson couldn't be thought of as a solution in net (and many could claim he can't be depended upon for even minimal action after his performance last season), but Roloson's job would be as a mentor.
There's no guarantee the Lightning will make a trade for anyone... They could sign the likes of Josh Harding, Al Montoya or any other looming unrestricted free agent goalie after July 1st.
It's important to keep options open with where the Lightning goes from here in goal... As I don't think they're necessarily locked-in with obtaining Bernier (though I could be wrong).