MINNEAPOLIS -- As much as coach Jacques Lemaire would have
liked keeping them both, he knew the Minnesota Wild weren't going
to keep two veteran goalies -- and pay them each seven-figure
After three seasons in Lemaire's job share, Manny Fernandez
emerged this winter as the favorite and bumped former All-Star
Dwayne Roloson to a backup role.
So, on the day before the NHL's trading deadline, Roloson was
dealt Wednesday to the Edmonton Oilers for a first-round draft pick
this summer and future considerations.
"We're seeing some changes around here, and I think goalie-wise
everyone knew what was going to happen," said Fernandez, who
signed a $13 million, three-year contract extension last week.
The Oilers have used Jussi Markkanen, Ty Conklin and Mike
Morrison to mind the net this season -- and none of them have
impressed. Edmonton currently has the eighth and final position in
the Western Conference playoff race, seven points ahead of
The Wild have sputtered since the Olympic break, losing four out
of five games including a 3-2 overtime decision to seventh-place
Los Angeles on Tuesday night. They're 10th, four points behind
By 2 p.m. Thursday, it's possible more trades will be made.
"We all understand that it's something that could happen,"
said center Wes Walz, one of the veterans who could be moved. "I
don't think anyone's untouchable in our room."
By extending Fernandez, waiving disappointing right wing
Alexandre Daigle and dealing Roloson, general manager Doug
Risebrough has whittled Minnesota's list of players who soon will
be unrestricted free agents to six. Center Marc Chouinard,
defenseman Filip Kuba, defenseman Willie Mitchell, center Randy
Robitaille, defenseman Daniel Tjarnqvist and defenseman Andrei
Zyuzin are among the others who could be dealt.
Risebrough is in a tough spot, trying to build the club for the
future and get something back for the players the Wild won't be
re-signing -- yet realizing, too, that they're not giving up on the
"The team is still competing," he said. "We're still there.
The changes made have to have more of a delicate balance."
Though he enjoyed living in the Twin Cities, was active in the
community and cherished the team's run through the 2003 playoffs as
well as his appearance in the 2004 All-Star game at Xcel Energy
Center, Roloson was happy to have some finality to his situation.
"It's nice to have it done and actually know where I'm going to
play," he said as he left the Minneapolis arena where his
teammates were practicing. "I'm not going to be here,
unfortunately, but at the same time I'm going to a team that has a
chance to make the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup."
Roloson, after stellar seasons in 2002-03 and 2003-04, has
slumped to a record of 6-17 and a goals-against average of 3.00.
His save percentage is .910.
It hasn't been all his fault, though. Bad bounces have haunted
him all season.
"I can't say that we played superb in front of him every
night," Robitaille said. "I'm sure there were a few games he'd
like to have back this year, but I know in the past that he's been
the man here."
Indeed, the Wild wished the 36-year-old Roloson well and
remarked on his somewhat unexpected success after spending the
entire 2000-01 season in the minors.
"He's been great for us," Lemaire said. "We thank him for all
that he did."
To replace Roloson, the Wild recalled Josh Harding from their
top minor-league team, the Houston Aeros. Harding, 21, is second in
the AHL in both victories (27) and save percentage (.923). A
second-round draft pick in 2002, Harding might get sent back to
Houston for the playoffs. But first, Risebrough and the coaching
staff must evaluate him.
"If we feel that Manny needs a rest, we'll play the kid,"