The Lightning on Wednesday addressed its three-goalie glut before it became an issue by placing Mike Smith on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to AHL Norfolk.

It will be known at noon today if he clears or is claimed.

"He needs to play," GM Steve Yzerman said. "Having three goaltenders here, we don't want to go to any kind of rotation. If Smitty gets claimed, good for him. If he doesn't, he goes down and plays for us down there."

The move has several facets.

At its root, Tampa Bay decided to go with Dan Ellis as Dwayne Roloson's backup.

Paying Smith the rest of his $2.4 million salary to play in the minors likely wasn't its first choice. But Smith, out since Dec. 20 with a sprained left knee, proved during last week's conditioning stint with Norfolk he is healthy. And despite denials all around, having three goalies on the roster would be awkward.

Add that Norfolk G Cedrick Desjardins could be out for the season with a shoulder injury that might need surgery and an opening needs to be filled.

It might end up being a showcase for Smith, 28, who could be traded or claimed on recall waivers before becoming an unrestricted free agent after the season. Yzerman has said he is looking at trades to clean up the three-goalie situation.

Smith was "quiet" when told the plan, Yzerman said. "There's not much he can say."

Smith, who practiced and left the St. Pete Times Forum before the news broke, did not respond to a text message

"I think we've managed it the best we could," coach Guy Boucher said. "The reality is we got a goaltender through a trade (Roloson) who's proven why we got him, which means less space for the other guys."

"We don't take these things lightly," Boucher added. "Players are not numbers for us. We care. It's important whatever we do, we try to find the best possible option for the team but also for the individual with the circumstances we're facing."