Tampa Bay Lightning Year In Review: Andrei Vasilevskiy


As the off-season continues on and we prepare for the new season, let’s take one final look at the 2014-15 season of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

If there was ever a player in the National Hockey League who was unceremoniously thrown out of the pan and into the fire in a particular season, that player would be Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Vasilevskiy was drafted in the First Round (19th Overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Over the course of the next two seasons, the Russian netminder would remain in the Kontinental Hockey League, playing for both Tolpar Ufa and Salavat Yulaev Ufa.

Last season, Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman decided that it was finally time for Vasilevskiy to make his way to North America and begin to adapt his game to a new style. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t have much time to adapt before he got the call to the main roster.

After playing just 25 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, Andrei Vasilevskiy would get the call to the main roster where he would serve as backup to Lightning netminder Ben Bishop.

While this is definitely not the traditional way of assisting a player, especially a goaltender, in adapting their game to the North American style of play, but the experience he gained in his journey with the main roster has proven to be invaluable.

Not only did he hit the ice with the main roster 16 times in the regular season, but he was able to take the ice and backstop the Bolts for four games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His on the job training continued all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

One of the moments that stick out during the post season when it comes to the twenty one year old netminder came in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals as the Tampa Bay Lightning did battle with the New York Rangers.

Rangers center Derick Brassard made a move on the Lightning net. He was one goal shy of a Hat Trick when he found himself in a perfect position in front of the net. Finally, the puck makes its way to Brassard’s stick and he fires. Unfortunately for Brassard, while his moment would come later in the game, this moment was not now.

The bad news for the Tampa Bay Lightning is that they would not come home with the win, but this moment is still one that demonstrates the kind of skill that Vasilevskiy brings to the main roster.

In his time on the main roster this season, Vasilevskiy played in 16 games in the regular season. During this amount of time, he maintained a record of 7-5-1 with a Goals Allowed Average of 2.36 and a Save Percentage of .918. Vasilevskiy’s numbers would take a steep incline in the postseason, but being incredibly honest, that is to be expected of a rookie netminder who is just making his way into the NHL.

RELATED: Tampa Bay Lightning Year In Review: Ben Bishop

There is no denying that Andrei Vasilevskiy is the top prospect in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s developmental system. Judging by the looks of things, he will remain on the Lightning’s roster in the 2015-16 season and continue to serve as Bishop’s backup.

The most interesting thing we have found is that the contracts of both Bishop and Vasilevskiy both expire at the end of the 2016-17 season. Vasilevskiy will then become a Restricted Free Agent whereas Bishop will become an Unrestricted Free Agent.

There is still quite a bit of time in between now and the expiration of their contracts, but the journey begins in just a few more weeks when the Tampa Bay Lightning hit the ice on October 8th for the Home Opener. We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to see how things play out.

What did you think about Andrei Vasilevskiy’s performance in the 2014-15 season? What kind of an impact do you think Vasilevskiy will have on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015-16 season? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning: Top 5 Can’t Miss Games of 2015-16

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