Tampa Bay Lightning: 30 Best Draft Picks In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

17. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Draft Year: 2012

Position: Goaltender

If there is any particular position the Tampa Bay Lightning has notoriously struggled with over the course of history it has been directly in front of the net. It almost seemed as if the Tampa Bay Lightning could not catch a break when it came to goaltenders and really struggled to find any sort of consistency.

When the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired goaltender Ben Bishop at the trade deadline of the 2012-13 season, it seemed as if the Lightning’s goaltending struggles had finally come to an end. The very next season, Bishop set a new franchise record with 37 wins in a single regular season.

The next thing the Lightning needed to do was find a goaltender who could serve with, not behind, Ben Bishop. It just so happens the Lightning already had the key component in their arsenal. This player would be Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.

After being drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the First Round (19th overall) in the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Vasilevskiy would spend the next couple of seasons between the his junior team Tolpar UFA and Salavat Yulayev UFA of the KHL.

The 21 year old Russian netminder made his way to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch in the 2014-15 season. Vasilevskiy maintained a record of 14-6-5 in 25 games. Vasilevskiy’s performance did not go unnoticed by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

That season, Vasilevskiy would make his National Hockey League debut. On December 16, 2014 Vasilevskiy would take the ice with the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Vasilevskiy would bring home the victory in his next game with the Lightning, but then he would hit a little bump in the road.

Things only got more difficult for him in the offseason when the Lightning goaltender would be diagnosed with a blood clot near his collarbone requiring vascular surgery to repair. The recovery from his surgery would cause him to miss the first month of the 2015-16 season.

Vasilevskiy finally made his way back to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup on November 1, 2015 in a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Andrei Vasilevskiy has run into a bit of difficulty with his game this season; however, a lot of this can be attributed to his lack of play time this season. This led Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman to temporarily reassign him to the Syracuse Crunch.

More than likely, this is an effort to get Vasilevskiy some more ice time and allow him to find his groove once again and be able to perform to the level we all know he can. One would think after he gets a few games under his belt, he will be back here in the Sunshine State.

There is no denying Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best draft picks in Tampa Bay Lightning history. When a team has spent so long struggling in a particular area, it is incredible comforting to know the team has someone in their arsenal who can find some sort of consistency and give the team a real chance to succeed.

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