Minnesota Wild Fifteen Greatest Players: #9 Dwayne Roloson


Until he earned a roster spot with the Minnesota Wild, Dwayne Roloson would struggle through seven years trying to find a full-time NHL job.  With the Wild he found that full-time job and a next level to his game which made him a statistically the second best Wild goaltender of all time.

The first player to make it into a single digit spot on the Fifteen greatest is also the first goaltender on the list Dwayne Roloson.  Roloson was a journeyman goaltender who spent four seasons with the Wild raising his game up to be the one of the best netminders in the league.  His newfound success seemed to coincide with the Wild’s rise to their best playoff performance of all time during the 2002-03 season.

More from History

Roloson’s journey to the Wild began in the NCAA at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where he played all his four years of eligibility.  Despite an excellent Senior season that saw Roloson named as a Hobey Baker Finalist and NCAA All-American, he was not drafted and forced to sign a free-agent entry contract with the Calgary Flames.  Roloson would spend the better part of seven seasons after leaving U Mass Lowell bouncing between AHL and NHL teams.

Before the 2001-02 season Roloson signed with the Minnesota Wild to back-up then top goaltender Manny Fernandez.  Rolson would actually end up splitting the schedule evenly with Fernandez, after turning in some solid performances.  There was no doubt that Roloson had improved his game immensely from his previous up and down seasons.

The 2002-03 season would be the season that Roloson cemented himself as one of the Wild’s best ever goaltenders.  His shutdown performances against Vancouver in the second round of the playoffs was key to the Wild’s Western Conference Finals appearance.

Individually that season Roloson would have one of the best seasons by a goaltender as he finished 2nd in the NHL in save percentage (.926 SV%) and 3rd in goals against average (2.00 GAA).  The next season despite the Wild missing the playoffs, Roloson would improve even more and finish 2nd in the league in goals against average (1.88 GAA) and finish on top of the league in save percentage (.933 SV%).  It can be argued that only future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur was better than Roloson during those two seasons.

After the lockout season of 2004-05 Roloson’s play declined slightly in 2005-06.  So the Wild considered him expendable and traded him to the Edmonton Oilers in a three-way deal that saw Pavol Demitra come to the Wild from the LA Kings.  After leaving Minnesota Roloson would not put up the moster numbers he did in Minnesota, but he would lead the Oilers to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2008.  He finally would hang up is skates as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning after 14 NHL seasons after the 2011-12 season.

As it stands now Roloson is statistically the second best goaltender in Wild history.  In the franchise record books he is 2nd in GAA with 2.28, 2nd in SV% with .919, 3rd in wins with 62, and 2nd in shutouts with 15.  Not too bad for an undrafted player who took seven seasons to get a regular gig in the NHL.

Next: Vanek or Pominville Buyout Not Simple

Wild fans remember “Rollie the Goalie” for being the first goaltender to backstop the team to their first real successes as a franchise.  Most of all though Roloson’s legacy today is found in the many goaltenders that he and Wild goaltender coach Bob Mason have brought up in their goalie camp.  That’s something I’m sure Roloson is very proud of, perhaps even more than any of his playing accolades.