Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

31. Tampa Bay Lightning Drafts Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy

Date: June 22, 2012

As many people here in the Bolts Nation are painfully aware, the Tampa Bay Lightning has spent many seasons in need of a goaltender who could provide the kind of consistency needed between the pipes to help lead the Lightning to the highest reaches of the National Hockey League. The good news is, in more than one way, the Tampa Bay Lightning found a solution to this problem before the start of the 2012-13 season.

Thanks to a series of trades earlier in the year that saw former Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Steve Downie head to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Kyle Quincey. Ironically enough, Quincey’s stay here in the Bolts Nation would be incredibly short lived. Moments later, Yzerman would trade Quincey to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for defenseman Sebastian Piche and a First Round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.

This brings us to, you guessed it, the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft. The Tampa Bay Lightning would select Slater Koekkoek with their first pick, which was 10th overall. Just nine picks later, the Tampa Bay Lightning would use the pick they acquired from Detroit, the Bolts would select goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Vasilevskiy would spend his first two seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization with Salavat Yulayev and the Tolpar UFA Jr. It wasn’t until the 2014-15 season when Vasilevskiy would finally make the jump to North America. Vasilevskiy would report to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.

Vasilevskiy would play in 25 games with the Crunch that season, where he built a 14-6-5 record. In that time, Vasy would maintain a Goals Allowed Average of 2.45 and a Save Percentage of .917. The then-20 year old Russian netminder would make his Lightning debut on December 16, 2014 as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1.

In the 16 goals Vasilevskiy would play with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2014-15 season, Vasy would maintain a 2.36 Goals Allowed Average and a Save Percentage of .918. The Tampa Bay Lightning definitely took notice of Vasilevskiy’s play in the 2014-15 season. When the 2015-16 season kicked off, Vasilevskiy would find himself on the Lightning’s main roster playing alongside Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.

It didn’t take very long for Vasilevskiy to make an impact here in the Bolts Nation. From the moment Lightning fans laid eyes on him for the very first time, they knew Vasilevskiy was destined for great things. Each and every day, the 21 year old netminder reminds us why he has a long and successful career ahead of him in the National Hockey League.

Next: Steve Yzerman Finally Gets The Credit He Deserves