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Gudlevskis shakes up Lightning's organizational depth in net



The Lightning's organizational goaltending depth underwent a significant shakeup this week with the promotion of Kristers Gudlevskis to AHL Syracuse. The 124th overall pick of last summer's draft, had been playing for ECHL Florida.

That means the Crunch currently has three goaltenders: Gudlevskis, Cedrick Desjardins and Riku Helenius, who is the odd man out. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman even said the move will affect Helenius' practice and game time.

But Tampa Bay has been so impressed by Gudlevskis, 21, that it felt it had to make the move, even though it is creating, in the short term at least, an uncomfortable situation at Syracuse.

"We are very impressed with his maturity, his work ethic, his athleticism," Yzerman said. "We like his attitude. We're encouraged by it. He's a good prospect."

Gudlevskis was 7-4-0 in 11 games for the Everblades with a 1.83 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. In four games with Syracuse he is 4-0-0 with a 1.92 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

"We're really pleased with the way Kristers has played," Yzerman said. "We decided we want him to spend more time in the American League, get more games in the American League. We recalled him for that purpose."

The question, then, is what happens to Helenius, the No. 15 overall pick of the 2006 draft who is on a one-way contract but has struggled with at 2-3-0 in five games with a 3.43 goals-against average and .875 save percentage?

For now, Yzerman said, Syracsue will carry three goalies with coach Rob Zettler handling them as he sees fit.

Other than that, "We have no plan, nothing in the works right now," Yzerman said when asked if he had plans to move Helenius.

Helenius' agent, Jay Grossman said his communication with Yzerman has been "great," and for now, his client is "going to be a good team guy, a good organization guy. What we have found out in this game is you never know when you're going to get your opportunities. We had good conversations with Steve and we'll see where it goes from here."

Other stuff from the morning: The Lightning did not skate this morning. ... Ben Bishop will get the start in net tonight against the Senators. ... It sounds as if Tampa Bay will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Matt Taormina, called up yesterday from Syracuse because of Eric Brewer's injury, will play, Cooper said."He's a savvy defenseman and a puck-mover," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of Taormina, who has two goals, 10 points in 13 games for the Crunch. "He knows our system. I'm completely comfortable with him." ... It seems as if Richard Panik will be scratched. ... Brewer said his lower-body injury occurred during Monday's practice and it is minor. Cooper said Brewer could be ready for Saturday against the Jets. ... Defenseman Radko Gudas (upper body) also seems on track to play Saturday, though nothing is certain. ... Left wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie (left arm/elbow) also skated this morning. ... Cory Conacher faced the Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in April, shortly after he was traded last season to the Senators, and Cooper, his coach at AHL Norfolk and Syracuse, was Tampa Bay's coach. But the Lightning roster wasn't nearly as filled with former Admirals and Crunch players as it is today. That's why Conacher said tonight's game "will be fun." Conacher also said he and his former Norfolk teammates, who won the 2011-12 Calder Cup championship, would like to have a reunion after five or 10 years. But Conacher had his highest praise for Cooper. "He's a coach you could talk to and text away from the rink," Conacher said. "He really knows how to talk to you one-on-one. I give him a lot of credit for him to allow me to be so successful in my professional career. ... Coancher has struggled this season with two goals, five points in 28 games. "It's been a tough start in terms of points but I think my game has been getting better," Conacher said. "I try to stick to defense first and I try to stick with the structure of the team, and with that I think the points will come. It's just a matter of time, and tonight would be a nie time to open the flood gates." ... As to getting to the front of the net in front of Bishop, who is 6 feet 7, the 5-8 Conacher said, "I'm going to have to jump a couple of times instead of juststand there because he's a pretty big goalie. It's going to be important for me to be around the net and try to get him off his game and not let him see many pucks."


[Last modified: Thursday, December 5, 2013 2:27pm]


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