Lightning’s Vasilevskiy Out For Months With Blood Clot
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced Friday morning that prospect goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy underwent surgery for a blood clot related to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and will be out for two to three months.
#tblightning Yzerman said Vasilevskiy arrived in Tampa early this week, had swelling in upper arm. Sent to docs to get checked out
— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) September 4, 2015
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is a condition affecting the blood vessels and nerve in the torso that can giving rise to symptoms in the hands and shoulders. According to the Mayo Clinic,
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) become compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers.
Common causes of thoracic outlet syndrome include physical trauma from a car accident, repetitive injuries from job- or sports-related activities, certain anatomical defects (such as having an extra rib), and pregnancy. Sometimes doctors can’t determine the cause of thoracic outlet syndrome.
If left untreated, the nerves can become damaged and the muscles can lose strength.
A three-month recovery time means that the young prospect will miss all of training camp and the first two months of the season, assuming he could get back on the ice in early December. That leaves the Lightning with a hole to fill in the meantime.
There are several options for the franchise. They could decide to temporarily promote one of their AHL netminders, either Kristers Gudlevskis or Adam Wilcox, while generally relying heavily on Ben Bishop. These two are already in competition for the starting job for the Syracuse Crunch.
At least initially, the Lightning seem prepared to see how things transpire with the two young prospects.
Yzerman said they’re going to take a “wait and see” approach during training camp before deciding to sign another goaltender to back up Bishop. Yzerman said they want to see how Kristers Gudlevskis, who has some NHL experience, and Adam Wilcox, who just turned pro, do. Plus it gives the team a better feel for how long Vasilevskiy will be out.
However, Wilcox has almost no professional experience and Gudlevskis is in need mostly of playing time. While a few months in the NHL won’t harm either unduly and might provide Gudlevskis with the spark he needs to improve, should this prove unworkable there are other options.
The Lightning might sign a veteran netminder still available in free agency. Jonas Gustavsson seems to be the best of those choices and this might be the least risky way to approach the situation.
But what would happen when Vasilevskiy returned? Last season the Lighning signed Evgeni Nabokov assuming that he would leave the team when Vasilevskiy was ready. Vasilevskiy joined the NHL club in late December and Nabokov was waived in February and subsequently retired. Could the Lightning do the same thing with another goaltender? Would anyone be willing to sign under those circumstances?
A third alternative is to see who becomes available on the waiver wire at the beginning of the season. This, of course, assumes that the choices on waivers will be better than the choices in free agency, which is not guaranteed. It would also require finding a spot for someone once Vasilevskiy returns. Are the Lightning willing to take one another prospect goalie?
The least likely scenario is to trade for a goaltender to back Bishop up. While it is possible that this could also allow the Lightning to deal with some of their unrelated cap concerns, that will depend on finding the right deal.