Dwayne Roloson, Welcome to a Land of Positive Shot Differential

"It's always exciting when you're playing for a team in that is in first place." -- Dwayne Roloson, after his 1-0 blanking of the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

Maybe it wasn't a big deal for a lot of people, but 41-year old Dwayne Roloson's trade to the Tampa Bay Lightning has given an old veteran perhaps one last chance at a championship.  In the process, he has also joined a team with the number one shot differential in the league (as of the end of the day January 1st).  The Lightning and their potent, Guy Boucher-led offense have averaged 32.41 shots per game (SPG) this year, a full five shots higher than the average of Roloson's teams in his career (27 SPG).  It will also be the greatest volume of shots per game that Roloson has ever played behind; his next highest was with the Calgary Flames in 1996-97 (31.35 SPG) and the Islanders last year (30.4 SPG).  In no other season have his teams averaged above 30.

But the amount of shots-for is only half of the upside.

The shot differentials of his teams have either been negative systematically (Ruff's Buffalo Sabres, Lemaire's Minnesota Wild), or just because they were pretty bad teams (Edmonton Oilers after '05-'06, New York Islanders).

Season --- Team --- SPG --- Shots against/game --- (Diff) --- NHL Rank

1996-97 --- Flames --- 31.35 --- 28.43 --- (2.93) --- 6th

1997-98 --- Flames --- 27.68 --- 27.68 --- (0.00) --- 13th

1998-99 --- Sabres --- 26.22 --- 29.96 --- (-3.74) --- 24th

1999-00 --- Sabres --- 27.18 --- 26.85 --- (0.33) --- 11th

2000-01 --- Wild ------- 24.63 --- 28.09 --- (-3.45) --- 23rd

2001-02 --- Wild ------- 23.83 --- 28.00 --- (-4.17) --- 26th

2002-03 --- Wild ------- 25.44 --- 28.46 --- (-3.02) --- 24th

2003-04 --- Wild ------- 24.17 --- 29.01 --- (-4.84) --- 27th

2005-06* - Wild/Oilers 28.49 --- 30.09 --- (-1.60) --- 23rd

2006-07 --- Oilers ----- 26.74 --- 29.59 --- (-2.84) --- 24th

2007-08 --- Oilers ----- 26.29 --- 31.26 --- (-4.96) --- 29th

2008-09 --- Oilers ----- 28.09 --- 32.48 --- (-4.39) --- 27th

2009-10 --- Islanders  30.40 --- 31.89 --- (-1.49) --- 20th

2010-11 --- Islanders  27.97 --- 31.58 --- (-3.61) --- 26th

In the 2005-06 season, Roloson experienced a similar boost to his fortunes, moving from the 26th-ranked shot differential in Minnesota to the 3rd-ranked shot differential in Edmonton.  That Oilers team would reach the Cup Finals thanks to the solid play of Roloson and a fellow recent acquisition, Chris Pronger.

As you can see, Roloson's career will forever be marked by playing pretty darn well (.920 ES SV% since 2001-02, stdev 1.1) for some pretty questionable teams.  His teams' shot differential over his career (-2.44) versus the rest of the league during that time (0.18) is a testament to that.  Frankly, I don't know what he'll do behind a team like the Lightning; it would be foolish to compare the '05-'06 Oilers to the '10-'11 Lightning, and not just because they don't have Pronger.  But I can confidently say that, unlike a number of quality veterans, Dwayne Roloson is going to truly get one more chance to win it all.

* The season was split between the Wild and the Oilers; I took the Wild shots-for/shot-against from all the games played to the day of his trade in the case of the Wild (March 8th) and added those to the 20 Oilers games after the trade.  The rank is based on where the differential would be placed in the league for that year.

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