The NHL trade deadline is six weeks away, but the most significant deal of the season might have already occurred.
Tampa Bay, vastly improved under Steve Yzerman, their rookie general manager, and Guy Boucher, the rookie coach, obtained Dwayne Roloson, a 41-year-old goaltender, from the New York Islanders over the holidays.
The Lightning had been relying on Mike Smith and Dan Ellis, but Smith went down with an injury and, more importantly, neither goalie had been able to step up and seize the No 1 job.
Nevertheless, Tampa Bay managed to climb to the top of a competitive Southeast Division and were holding down the No 2 seed in the East.
With Roloson in net, it is easier to accept the Bolts as a legitimate contender. Despite his age, Roloson was the best player on a bad Isles team. He faced a ton of rubber and won some games single-handedly.
In his first start for Tampa, Roloson blanked Washington 1-0. A week later, he shut out the Caps again, this time 3-0. In fact, in his first three wins for the Lightning, Roloson gave up just one goal.
That is the good news. The bad news is he surrendered 14 goals in his other three starts, getting pulled twice. But Roloson's track record as an established starter capable of big-game heroics - remember, he led the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup final in 2006 - should buy him some time to get settled in Tampa's crease.
And when he does, the Bolts will become even more dangerous.