Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Glut of goaltenders gives Lightning options

Did you know the Lightning never has developed a No. 1 goaltender?

It has tried. From the team's first draft in 1992 to 2009, Tampa Bay selected 18 goalies, including Riku Helenius 15th overall in 2006.

From that group, only eight played a combined 109 games for the Lightning: 48 by Karri Ramo and one by Helenius, whose contract this season was terminated.

This is noteworthy because Tampa Bay, with the signing last week of uberprospect Andrei Vasilevskiy, has perhaps its best chance at developing a No. 1.

So much is expected of the 19th overall pick of the 2012 draft that general manager Steve Yzerman believed he had to tap the breaks.

"Let's be cautious and conservative," Yzerman said Tuesday after signing Vasilevskiy to a three-year entry-level deal. "Let's not overhype anything. Let's bring him over and see how he looks, and it'll sort itself out."

Actually, Tampa Bay has a lot of sorting to do, and it is all because of savvy drafting since Al Murray was hired in August 2010 as director of amateur scouting.

The Lightning has drafted three goalies under Murray: Vasilevskiy, Kristers Gudlevskis (124th overall in 2013) and Adam Wilcox (178th overall in 2011).

Each has a role to play in how Tampa Bay configures next season's goaltending.

About the only certainty is Ben Bishop will be the No. 1, assuming his recovery from last month's ligament surgery on his right wrist goes as expected.

After that, the variations are numerous.

• Tampa Bay could re-sign potential restricted free agent Anders Lindback to remain the backup and have Vasilevskiy and Gudlevskis share duties at AHL Syracuse, which would give both valuable experience. The kids also would be in Syracuse if the Lightning decides to go with a different veteran backup.

• The Lightning could use either Vasilevskiy or Gudlevskis as Bishop's backup. Vasilevskiy certainly has been impressive playing against men in Europe's KHL. And Yzerman said that despite the small sample size, Gudlevskis, 21, the first goalie to play in the ECHL, AHL, NHL and Olympics in the same season, showed enough to at least get into the conversation as a possible No. 2.

• Add Wilcox, 21, and things get even more complicated. But the University of Minnesota sophomore — a finalist this season for the Mike Richter Award, given to collegiate hockey's top goalie — might see the glut and determine his best chance for playing time right now is at school.

• Don't discount the possibility of Yzerman using one of his goaltending chips in a trade. In fact, Gudlevskis might be trade bait if the team wants Vasilevskiy as Bishop's backup and Wilcox under contract.

That's quite a difference from the barren wasteland that had been Tampa Bay goaltending. Remember, this is a team that has used 20 goalies since Nikolai Khabibulin led it to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship.

"We've got to sort out our goaltending," Yzerman said.

What a nice problem to have.

Glut of goaltenders gives Lightning options 05/09/14 [Last modified: Saturday, May 10, 2014 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    Did the Rays make the right call in picking RHP Austin Pruitt rather than top prospect Brent Honeywell? Though Honeywell had tweeted he was as ready as he'd ever be, the Rays felt better going with Pruitt, who gave them the five innings they were seeking.

  2. Damion Lowe returns to Rowdies after eventful Gold Cup

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Pretty well emotionally spent, and not at all rested physically having just finished a life-changing stint with his native Jamaica in the Gold Cup, Damion Lowe wants the Rowdies to know he's ready.

    Damion Lowe, right, returns to the Rowdies — though he is likely to get a rest in tonight’s 7:30 home game against Pittsburgh — after an eventful six Gold Cup matches.
  3. Rays journal: Lineup dominated by Masahiro Tanaka in loss to Yankees (w/video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Sometimes you just have to dig out the good news, and for the Rays on Friday it may well have been that they didn't get no-hit in a 6-1 loss.

    Austin Pruitt waits for Brett Gardner to round the bases after leading off the first with one of three homers Pruitt gives up.
  4. Rays at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. Saturday, New York

    The Heater

    Today: at Yankees

    1:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell throws against the Rockies during the first inning Tuesday. He left after allowing just one hit and striking out nine in six shutout innings.  {Associated Press}
  5. Steve Cishek latest bullpen upgrade for Rays, who now must translate that to wins

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The Rays made another addition to change the look of their bullpen Friday in acquiring veteran side-armer and former closer Steve Cishek from Seattle.

    Reliever Steve Cishek has a 3.15 ERA in 20 games after recovering from offseason hip surgery and a 1.86 ERA since a rocky second outing of the season.