Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Goalie Andrey Vasilevskiy impresses at Tampa Bay Lightning development camp

BRANDON — The first save goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy made Tuesday was good enough; a quick one with his right leg on a shot from in close.

But that was just the primer for a sequence of stops that caused the small crowd at the Ice Sports Forum for the first day of the Lightning's development camp to gasp and then applaud.

Vasilevskiy used flailing arms and stretching legs to repeatedly thwart Vladislav Namestnikov and Dan Milan during a two-on-none drill, and made one save while on his back with legs into the air.

"He pretty much covers up the whole net, and he moves so fast," Namestnikov said.

"I was playing the situation," Vasilevskiy said with Namestnikov translating his native Russian. "Maybe some were lucky, but I played it hard to the end."

Among 30 prospects attending the camp, Vasilevskiy's appearance was perhaps the most anticipated.

The 19th overall pick of the June draft does not turn 18 until July 25 but is ranked by NHL Central Scouting as Europe's No. 1 junior goalie.

He had a 2.23 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in 27 games last season for Ufa in Russia, and Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman likened him to the Kings' Jonathan Quick, whom Yzerman said is breaking the stereotype of goalies "who are big and wear big equipment and just block (the puck)."

"He's so athletic and he makes great saves with his feet and his hands, so kind of re-defining the position," Yzerman said. "We think Vasilevskiy is in the same type of mold.

"He's very big and very athletic. It's only practice, but you see his ability to move in the net — long limbs and he's got a good structure and style to his game."

The question is where Vasilevskiy, 6 feet 3, 204 pounds, will play?

He was selected in the junior import draft by Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League, and Vasilevskiy said it would be best for his career to play in North America. To do that, either he or Mississauga must buy out the last two years of his Ufa contract.

"Whether it's North America or Russia, we want him playing," Yzerman said. "I think if he's in North America, in juniors, he would be a starting goalie. If he is in Russia, I don't know where he fits in on the depth chart of his men's team or junior team."

Asked through Namestnikov what he will do, Vasilevskiy smiled and said, in English, "no comment."

Speaking volumes, at least Tuesday, was his play.

After a 15-minute technical session, Lightning goaltenders coach Frantz Jean raved about Vasilevskiy's "really quick feet, really good hands" and that "he tracks the puck well."

But it was that sprawling, rolling sequence against Namestnikov and Milan that demonstrated the most.

"He battles, that's what's great," Jean said. "That's exactly why that drill was designed. Is he going to abandon after two saves or keep going till the end? He was going and going and going."

"It looks very good for us," Jean added. "We got a good goalie."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Forwards Nikita Kucherov and Brendan O'Donnell did not skate while rehabbing shoulder surgeries. Forward Maxime Langelier-Parent (hip) also did not skate.

Around the league

Devils free-agent center Zach Parise took another day in his native Minnesota pondering where to play next season.

"I'm back here to talk with my family and make sure that we've done all the work that we need to do make sure we make the right decision," he told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

The other top free agent, Predators defenseman Ryan Suter, also has not chosen a team, said his agent, Neil Sheehy.

COYOTE HAS HEART WORRY: Coyotes forward Brett MacLean was admitted to a cardiac ICU in Ontario after a medical emergency late Monday. The team said MacLean, 23, was playing pickup hockey in Owen Sound, Ontario, when he had an emergency. Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said the forward received CPR at the rink, was taken to a local hospital, then was airlifted to Knight University Hospital in London, Ontario.

JAGR FINDS HOME: The Stars signed Jaromir Jagr, a five-time scoring champion and former MVP, for one year, $4.55 million. Jagr, 40, had 19 goals and 54 points — both career lows — for the Flyers last season, his first back in the NHL after he played three years in Russia.

ADDITIONS: Former Flames and Panthers forward Olli Jokinen signed a $9 million, two-year contract with the Jets late Monday. … Taylor Pyatt, a free-agent left wing, agreed with the Rangers on a contract reportedly worth $3.1 million over two years.

RE-SIGNINGS: The Devils gave defenseman Bryce Salvador, 36, a three-year extension worth $9.5 million. … Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, 24, signed a four-year deal.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected] Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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