Andrei Vasilevskiy Hoping For An October Return


Injured Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy hopes to make his return to the ice before the end of October.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2015-16 season is about to be in full swing. Tomorrow night, the Lightning charge into the Amalie Arena in front of their 19,000+ screaming fans in order to do battle with the Philadelphia Flyers in the Tampa Bay Lightning Home Opener. Unfortunately, as most of you know by now, the Lightning will be taking the ice without one of their key players.

Early in September, it was announced that Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy would be sidelined 2-3 months in order to recover from vascular surgery needed to remove a blood clot found near Vasilevskiy’s collar bone. At the very least, Andrei Vasilevskiy would be looking at missing the first month of the regular season.

This put the Tampa Bay Lightning in quite a peculiar situation. With the start of the regular season right around the corner, Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President General Manager Steve Yzerman and Head Coach Jon Cooper were tasked with finding someone who could fill the void behind Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop when the regular season kicks off on October 8th.

Judging by the roster moves made yesterday afternoon, it would seem as if Yzerman and Cooper have elected to run with newly acquired goaltender Kevin Poulin supporting Ben Bishop when the regular season kicks off. On the bright side, it seems as if the Lightning may not be in need of their temporary solution for quite as long as originally anticipated.

According to Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer Joe Smith, Andrei Vasilevskiy is targeting an October return to the ice. In the report, Vasilevskiy has already started doing on-ice workouts with Lightning goaltending coach Frantz Jean facing controlled shots.

RELATED: Andrei Vasilevskiy Out 2-3 Months After Vascular Surgery

Unfortunately, it will be a little longer until he is able to return to practice with his teammates. Given the fact that Vasilevskiy is still on blood thinners, it would not be safe for him to take shots that could result in him being hit in the location of the injury.

According to Smith, Andrei Vasilevskiy has an appointment with Dr. Karl Illig, the doctor who performed the surgery, on October 21st. There is a possibility he could be cleared at that time.

"“Doctor said, ‘Everything looks good, we just need another extra four weeks to make sure everything is okay,'” Vasilevskiy told Smith."

This is definitely good news for Vasilevskiy as well as the Tampa Bay Lightning. While the Lightning may have found a suitable replacement for Vasilevskiy while he recovers, there is nothing like having the player who has built a reputation with his teammates out on the ice and – in the case of Ben Bishop – having his back.

At this point, there is nothing definitive in place. While a number of hockey players like to rush back to the ice after an injury, blood clots are nothing to play with and – if not properly treated – could result in serious injury and/or death. Obviously, this is not something we want for the young Russian netminder, so if Dr. Illig believes Vasilevskiy needs more time to recover, then more time it will be.

RELATED: Tampa Bay Lightning Year In Review: Andrei Vasilevskiy

At the very least, this news is a ray of sunshine in what has been a tumultuous few weeks for the Tampa Bay Lightning on the injury front. Tampa Bay Lightning centers Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Cedric Paquette, along with defenseman Victor Hedman and right wing Nikita Kucherov were all bitten by the injury bug during the Lightning’s preseason journey.

The sooner we can get our guys back to good health, the sooner the Tampa Bay Lightning can begin their full-on assault towards making another appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals and bringing home Lord Stanley’s Cup to Hockey Paradise. Stanley could use a tan, after all.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning Assign Four Players To Syracuse Crunch

More from Bolts by the Bay