Andrey Vasilevskiy Signs Three-Year Extension With Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning took swift advantage of the opportunity to offer restricted free agent goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy an extension on Friday. The 21-year old from Tyumen, Russia, is widely considered the “future in net” for the Lightning, and this cost-controlled deal locks him in until 2020.
The dynamic and agile Vasilevskiy was drafted by Tampa Bay in the first round in 2012 (no. 19) and has been on the fast track to becoming an NHL regular ever since. He garnered national attention in June when he replaced an injured Ben Bishop in the Eastern Conference Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In that series, Vasilevskiy faced off against another young goaltender in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Matt Murray, who turned 22 during the series.
After spending two years in the KHL with Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Vasilevskiy joined the Lightning AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch in 2014-15. He made his NHL debut in December of 2014 and soon displaced Lighting backup goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
This extension will kick in in the 2017-18 season and is worth a reported $10.5 million total.
The Lightning were known to have been shopping starter Ben Bishop at this year’s draft. The Calgary Flames were given permission to speak with Bishop but nothing came of it and the Flames traded for Brian Elliot instead.
Bishop has another year worth $5.95 million on his deal with the Lightning and will become a free agent in 2017. As a two-time Vezina finalist, Bishop is sure to garner interest from several teams and there continues to be speculation that the Lightning are prepared to move him.
It makes sense for the Lightning to find a taker for Bishop if only to free up cap space for the Restricted Free Agents they will need to sign before next offseason. Luckily for the Lightning, if not for Bishop, his contract expires before the expansion draft; this means that the Bolts will be able to protect Vasilevskiy rather than Bishop.
In the meantime, the Lightning still need to work on a deal for their third goaltender, Kristers Gudlevskis, who is an RFA this summer. Gudlevskis was a fifth round pick in 2013 and has spent two seasons with the Syracuse Crunch. It is unlikely that should Bishop be moved, the Lightning would be willing to run with a Vasilevskiy-Gudlevskis tandem, putting them in the market for a veteran to spell Vasilevskiy.