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Yzerman: Trade shores up Tampa Bay goalie depth

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman met with the media after the morning skate to discuss the swap of netminders announced Thursday morning, which sent Lightning American Hockey League prospect Dustin Tokarski to the Montreal Canadiens organization in exchange for Cedric Desjardins of the Hamilton Bulldogs.

"We've had Cedric in our organization before and we know him," Yzerman said. "We think he's a very good -- actually excellent -- goaltender at the AHL level and he played for us for a couple of games. We just think he is more ready to play for us if we need him in here. We know the person; we like him and we think he's a good goaltender."

Desjardins played for the then-Lightning AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals in the 2010-11 season, going 15-6-1 in 24 games, and appeared in two games for the Lightning that season, picking up two wins while compiling a 1.00 goals-against average.

Tokarski was selected by Tampa Bay in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL Draft and appeared in 146 games for Norfolk over three seasons. When an injury sidelined Mathieu Garon late in the 2011-12 season, Tokarski was called up and started five games down the stretch as Tampa Bay battled for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot. The goaltender went 1-3-1 with a 3.45 GAA.

With Tampa Bay eliminated from the postseason, Tokarski returned to Norfolk and led the Admirals to a Calder Cup championship.

"Dustin has been a good goaltender for us and obviously played well in helping us win a Calder Cup championship last year," Yzerman said, "but we felt that in the event that we needed to recall a goalie due to injury this year we weren't comfortable with our options right now."

This season Tokarski is 18-8-4 in 33 games for current Lightning affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.

"Our goaltending in Syracuse hasn't been up to par and we want to give our team the best opportunity to make the playoffs and hopefully do well in the playoffs, so we were looking to upgrade there as well," Yzerman said. "This has been a difficult year in the net in Syracuse, so we wish him good luck. It's good for Dustin, he gets an opportunity in a new organization. After four years here maybe that's a good thing for him."

As for the current slump which has seen the Lightning go winless in the past five games after running off six victories in their first seven games, Yzerman said the slide came as no surprise to him.

"We were thrilled to get off to the start we did, but you look at the schedule, playing home games, playing several of them against tired hockey teams, which is a huge impact at this stage of the season, and then going on the road against really good teams, things balance themselves out," he said.

"It gave us a really good opportunity to assess our team and see the areas we need to work on. We have areas to improve, and the road trip was very evident of that. When you're winning 5-1 or 6-1 and scoring on the power play, you're not playing much 5-on-5 and tight games, and the road trip was a good eye-opener for us. I think it brought everybody down to earth again and reminded everyone of how hard it is to win in this League. You have to do things the right way on the ice."

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