Tampa Bay Lightning: 30 Best Draft Picks In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

19. Kristers Gudlevskis

Draft Year: 2013

Position: Goaltender 

Next on our list is Latvian born puck stopper Kristers Gudlevkis, who continues to push for NHL playing time while continuing to develop his game for the team’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Even with the solid goaltending depth the organization has in front of him, Gudlevskis continues to show why he is still an option in this goaltending conversation going forward.

When the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Gudlevskis with the 124th selection of the 2013 NHL draft, they knew the Latvian goaltender was a freak athletically that needed time to develop his technique in order to one day be a solid NHL goaltender. Though he was playing with Dinamo Riga of the KHL at the time, the team agreed to release Gudļevskis from the final year of his contract and he later signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Lightning.

Gudlevskis started his North American career for the Lightning organization while playing for the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. He played 11 games for the Everblades, going 7-4 with a 1.83 GAA and .925 GAA. His played earned him a call to Syracuse, where he would continue his development with a higher step of competition.

I have always said this about Gudlevskis, he can be the most dominant player on the ice one night and then be a piece of swiss cheese the next. He proved that to be the case in his fist AHL season, going 18-11 with a 2.68 GAA and .901 SV%. Those may not seem like bad numbers, but when you look at the games that he started, he either seemed to shut the door on the opposition or allow them to have a field day. His consistency had to improve, and it seems like it has.

Currently, Gudlevskis is 6-5 with a 2.40 GAA and .922 SV% this year in Syracuse. He has taken the reigns at the team’s starter, and even saw some NHL action this year when Andrei Vasilevskiy was still recovering from offseason surgery. Though he still has some more time to develop, Gudlevskis has shown that he still has a dog in this goaltending race and could be a full-time NHL puck stopper by the beginning of the 2016-17 season if the NHL roster experiences a shakeup.

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