TAMPA — The Lightning locked up its star goaltender. The team announced an eight-year, $76 million extension for Andrei Vasilevskiy on Monday.
The 25-year-old has one year remaining on his current contract, worth $3.5 million a year.
This new deal is worth $9.5 million a year. It will tie Vasilevskiy with Nikita Kucherov as the highest-paid Lightning player. Both players have the same agent.
It also makes him the third-highest paid goalie, given current contracts. Montreal’s Carey Price gets $10.5 million and Sergei Bobrovsky just signed with Florida for $10 million.
Vasilevskiy, who won the Vezina Trophy this year and was a finalist last year, has been consistent for the Lightning. He was hampered by a fractured foot this year but led the league in wins.
This season’s goals-against average of 2.40 and .919 save percentage were career highs for Vasilevskiy. He also set the Lightning’s franchise shutout record with 18.
Twice this season, he stood on his head with shocking performances to steal a win for the Lightning. In his first game get back from injury, Dec. 13, Vasilevskiy made 48 saves to secure a win over Toronto. Then in the middle of three games against Washington in 15 days, Vasilevskiy made 54 saves on March 20.
Vasilevskiy was unable to pull out a steal in the playoffs, but then again, so was the rest of the Lightning.
In his second year as full-time starter, Vasilevskiy told the Times he learned how to manage his rest better. He recognized the need for days off, primarily in the form of optional morning skates, which runs contrary to his instinct to work his hardest at all times.
There was something of a learning curve once the crease was his for keeps, but he rounded the bend. Vasilevskiy clearly established himself as one of the league’s top netminders, even though he declined to call himself that.
Early in the season, after a strong 34-save showing in a win against Montreal, Vasilevskiy was compared to Price. He responded that he had only one great year compared to Price’s 12.
Now, he has two great seasons as a full-time starter. He has won the Vezina Trophy as many times as Price. And he is getting almost-Price money.