Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning acquires hopeful No. 1 goaltender, Anders Lindback, from Nashville Predators

The Lightning hopes it has found a big-time goaltender. Well, at the very least, he's big.

After stumbling through last season with goaltending woes, the Lightning sent three draft picks and journeyman goalie Sebastien Caron to Nashville on Friday for 6-foot-6 Swede Anders Lindback.

In other words, if you were waiting for the Lightning to address goaltending this offseason, this is the move.

"We're now set,'' general manager Steve Yzerman said.

However, Yzerman stopped short of naming Lindback, 24, the No. 1, saying he would compete with veteran Mathieu Garon.

"We think he has the ability to become a No. 1 goalie soon, but it would be wrong to sit here today and say he's our No. 1 goalie,'' Yzerman said. "We think he has really good potential, and we're going to let him develop at the right pace.''

Loaded with picks heading into next week's draft, the Lightning shipped three — Minnesota's second-rounder in 2012, Philadelphia's second-rounder in 2012 and its third-rounder in 2013 — along with Caron to Nashville. The Lightning still owns two first-round picks, Nos. 10 and 19 overall, and one second-rounder, No. 40, and could, per last season's trade, get a second-rounder, No. 53, from Florida.

In addition to Lindback, the Lightning acquired center Kyle Wilson and a 2012 seventh-round pick.

The Lightning is banking on Lindback being the No. 1 soon, but his track record is unproven. Backing up Pekka Rinne, one of the NHL's best goalies, he has appeared in only 38 games over two seasons. His record, 16-13-2, is spotty, but his other key numbers, 2.53 goals-against average and .914 save percentage, are impressive.

"I had some great years with Nashville, but I was in a tough spot behind Pekka Rinne,'' Lindback said. "My dream all my life has been to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL, and I think I have a great opportunity to be that in Tampa Bay."

Last season, Lindback went 5-8 with a 2.42 GAA and .912 save percentage in 16 games. He's a restricted free agent, but the Lightning should be able to sign him to a new deal. He made $875,000 last season.

Lindback first appeared on Yzerman's radar in Oct. 24, 2010, when he stopped 42 of 45 shots in a 4-3 victory at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"The big thing you first notice is his size,'' he said. "We like the way he moves. I like his athleticism. He reacts well. I think he has good, solid technique and an all-around structure.''

In 2011-12, just a season after Dwayne Roloson led the Lightning to within a victory of the Stanley Cup final, the Lightning struggled in goal, mostly with the 42-year-old Roloson and much-traveled Garon. The team's 3.39 GAA and .889 save percentage were both worst in the NHL.

Finding a goalie became Yzerman's top priority, and the rumor mill included Vancouver's Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo and several backups. Schneider has evolved into a No. 1 while Luongo's remaining contract, $47.284 million through 2021-22, is too bulky. And it was unclear if other goalies would become available.

"We do our best to research everything; to check around the league,'' Yzerman said. "We had an opportunity present itself with Anders, and we wanted him. We believe there were other teams in consideration for Anders."

Yzerman previously added depth by signing Riku Helenius from the Finish elite league, and minor-leaguer Dustin Tokarski just completed a sensational season capped by an American Hockey League championship.

"I think Yzerman's plan is in motion," wing Marty St. Louis said in a text message. "And it's exciting."

Wilson, 27, played in five games last season with no points. In 39 games (also with the Capitals and Blue Jackets), he has four goals and nine assists.

The Lightning signed Caron, who turns 32 on June 25, in March. In three games, he went 1-1 with a 3.11 GAA and .877 save percentage.

No Swiss: Damien Brunner, a star wing in the Swiss league and a free agent, won't sign with the Lightning. His agent said neither where he will sign nor why it won't be with Tampa Bay. Yzerman declined comment.

Re-signings: Forwards Adam Hall and J.T. Wyman re-signed for one year. Hall signed a one-way deal for $650,000, Wyman a two-way deal for $600,000 when in the NHL. In 57 games last season, Hall had two goals, five assists and a 59.5 faceoff win percentage that was second in the league among those with at least 200 wins. In 40 games, Wyman had two goals and nine assists.

Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.

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