35 Days Until The Season Begins

Cam Lewis
7 months ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane. Today at No. 35 we have Dwayne Roloson, arguably the best trade deadline acquisition in team history.
Roloson played four seasons with the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Calgary Flames. He spent two seasons with the Saint John Flames of the AHL and made his NHL debut with Calgary in 1996-97 and spent one more season with the organization before leaving in free agency.
The Buffalo Sabres signed Roloson to be Dominik Hasek’s backup and he spent two seasons with the club, the first of which saw the team make a run to the Stanley Cup Final. Roloson was selected in the 2000 NHL Expansion Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets but he declined to join the new team and instead signed with the Worcester IceCats, the AHL team of the St. Louis Blues.
Roloson dominated AHL competition and returned to the NHL the following season. Ironically, he did so with the Minnesota Wild, the other expansion team that had joined the league at the same time as the Blue Jackets.
The Wild missed the playoffs in Roloson’s first season in Minnesota but made a surprising run to the Western Conference Final in his second year, though it was Fernandez between the pipes when the team pulled off a shocking first-round win over the Colorado Avalanche. Minnesota missed the playoffs again in 2003-04 despite Roloson leading the NHL with a .933 save percentage.
After spending the 2004-05 lockout season in Finland, Roloson returned to Minnesota along with Fernandez in 2005-06. The Wild were out of a playoff spot come trade deadline time so they dealt Roloson to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a first- and a third-round pick.

Trading two top draft picks to a division rival was obviously a big risk for general manager Kevin Lowe to make but the Oilers were a very good team that season that had been bogged down by terrible goaltending. The trio of Ty Conklin, Jussi Markkanen, and Mike Morrison had combined to post an .881 save percentage by that point and Roloson was a much-needed addition.
It took Roloson a few games to find his footing in Edmonton but he settled into a groove and helped the team sneak into the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. From there, Roloson was everything the Oilers asked for and more.
He put up a .929 save percentage as the Oilers beat the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings in the first round, he had a .931 save percentage in their second-round series win over Hart Trophy winner Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks, and he improved to a .934 save percentage in Edmonton’s five-game series win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the Conference Final.

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Unfortunately, Roloson’s season came to an end when he was injured during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers wound up losing the series in seven games and fans still wonder to this day what would have happened if Marc-Andre Bergeron didn’t throw that hit on Andrew Ladd.
Roloson was an unrestricted free agent in the off-season but he and the Oilers agreed to a three-year contract worth $3.9 million annually. The Oilers missed the playoffs in each of those seasons and Roloson posted a .909 save percentage. When Roloson was again a free agent in 2009, the Oilers decided that he was too old to keep around on another multi-year deal, so they signed Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year deal instead.
The New York Islanders wound up signing Roloson to a two-year deal. During the second season of that contract, the Islanders moved Roloson to the Tampa Bay Lightning to help solidify a struggling goaltending tandem that featured Dan Ellis and Mike Smith. Roloson put up a .912 save percentage in the regular season and then posted a .924 save percentage in the playoffs as the Lightning reached the Eastern Conference Final.
Tampa brought Roloson back on a one-year contract in the off-season and he retired at the end of the season when the Lightning missed the playoffs. Roloson finished his NHL career with 227 wins and a .908 save percentage along with 28 wins and a .918 save percentage in the playoffs.


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