clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Lightning's less than successful record with developing goalies

New, comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning have never drafted and developed a true NHL goaltender, putting prospects Andrey Vasilevskiy and Kristers Gudlevskis in historical perspective.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning's Andrey Vasilevskiy was named by ESPN's Corey Pronman as the top NHL goalie prospect for this year [paywall, but the Lightning excerpted the relevant parts on their website]:

I'm not exaggerating when I say this: Vasilevski is one of the best goalie prospects of the past 20 years. He's a special player who has excelled if not dominated at just about every level and major event he's participated in during the past five years, including the KHL playoffs.

The fact that he's so exceptional puts a burden on the Lightning to develop him right--not rushing him too quickly through the development process, but still finding ways to challenge him enough that he can get better.

And if they do this, if Vasilevskiy (or his colleague Kristers Gudlevskis) becomes an NHL goalie in the Lightning system, it will be the first time it has happened. This franchise has been in existence for 22 years and has never developed a true NHL goaltender.

The Lightning have drafted 22 goalies since 1992:

Draft

Num.

Round

Player

Pos

Drafted From

GP

2013 Entry

124

5

Kristers Gudlevskis

G

Riga Jrs. (Russia)

1

2012 Entry

19

1

Andrei Vasilevski

G

Ufa Tolpar (Russia)

2011 Entry

178

6

Adam Wilcox

G

Green Bay Gamblers [USHL]

2009 Entry

148

5

Michael Zador

G

Oshawa Generals [OHL]

2009 Entry

162

6

Jaroslav Janus

G

Erie Otters [OHL]

2008 Entry

122

5

Dustin Tokarski

G

Spokane Chiefs [WHL]

10

2007 Entry

183

7

Torrie Jung

G

Kelowna Rockets [WHL]

2006 Entry

15

1

Riku Helenius

G

Ilves Tampere [SM-liiga]

1

2005 Entry

165

6

Kevin Beech

G

Sudbury Wolves [OHL]

2004 Entry

191

6

Karri Ramo

G

Pelicans Jr. (Finland)

88

2003 Entry

96

3

Jonathan Boutin

G

Halifax Mooseheads [QMJHL]

2003 Entry

224

7

Gerald Coleman

G

London Knights [OHL]

2

2002 Entry

135

5

Joseph Pearce

G

New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs

2002 Entry

213

7

Fredrik Norrena

G

TPS Turku [SM-liiga]

100

2002 Entry

233

8

Vasily Koshechkin

G

N/A

2000 Entry

226

7

Brian Eklund

G

Brown University [ECAC]

1

2000 Entry

233

8

Alexander Polukeyev

G

St. Petersburg Jrs. (Russia)

1999 Entry

67

3

Evgeny Konstantinov

G

Kazan Ak-Bars [Russia]

2

1999 Entry

148

5

Michal Lanicek

G

Slavia Praha Jr. (Czech)

1995 Entry

212

9

Zac Bierk

G

Peterborough Petes [OHL]

47

1993 Entry

29

2

Tyler Moss

G

Kingston Frontenacs [OHL]

30

1992 Entry

145

7

Derek Wilkinson

G

Detroit Compuware Ambassadors [OHL]

22

Of these goalies, only five have played more than 10 games in the NHL. That's a "success" rate of 22.7%. None have become NHL regulars, though a few have gotten close. Only Gudlevskis, Vasilevskiy, Wilcox, and Janus are still in the Lightning's system.

Fredrik Norrena: The goalie with the most NHL experience on this list, Norrena never played for a Lightning affiliated club. He spent the four years after his draft in Finland and Sweden and was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006 (along with Fredrik Modin for goalie Marc Denis), before he ever played a North American game. All his NHL games were with the Blue Jackets between 2006-07 and 2008-09. He then returned to Europe and played four more seasons in Russia and Sweden. He officially retired in May of this year and will be the goaltending coach for TPS of the Finnish Liiga.

Karri Ramo: The Lightning came closest to developing a true NHL goalie with Ramo, who played 48 NHL games in 3 seasons with Tampa Bay, while playing in the AHL during all three of those seasons 2006-07 through 2008-09). Ramo then signed with Avangard Omsk of the KHL as a free agent and spent the next four years there. (His rights--along with Dustin Tokarski--were traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 2009 for Cedrick Desjardins.)

While it could be argued that Ramo has become an NHL goalie, he had to leave the Lightning organization to do it. He was clearly in a development phase while playing for the Lightning, splitting those seasons between the AHL and the NHL. He spent more time with Avangard than he did with Tampa Bay, and played many more games there. He's now with the Calgary Flames, and may possibly stick this time.

Zac Bierk: Bierk--whose personal story is pretty interesting--played 26 games with the Lightning in 3 seasons between 1997-98 and 1999-2000. He was then claimed by the Minnesota Wild in the expansion draft of 2000. He bounced between the ECHL, AHL, and NHL, logging 21 more NHL games mostly with the Phoenix Coyotes before retiring in 2004. [He has the distinction of playing in the only NHL game where both goaltenders recorded their first NHL shutouts.] Bierk is now a goaltending consultant for the Oshawa Generals.

Tyler Moss: Moss never played a single game for the Lightning. He spent two seasons in the OHL then two in the IHL and one in the AHL before being traded by the Lightning to the Flames in March 1997. He went on to play 30 games in four seasons with Calgary, the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Vancouver Canucks. He went to Europe in 2004, playing in Russia, Switzerland, and Germany.

Derek Wilkinson: Wilkinson played all of his NHL games with the Lightning (1995-96 to 1998-99), while also logging time in the IHL. By 1999-2000, he was playing in the ECHL, and he finished his playing career in Great Britain with the Belfast Giants. Wilkerson is currently in the Carolina Hurricanes organization, where he was head coach of the Charlotte Checkers for eight years and has been Senior VP of Hockey Operations for the past four.

The only other case that the Lightning could make for developing an NHL goalie is Dustin Tokarski. However, he has only 10 NHL games to this point, and since leaving the Lightning he has been mainly an AHL goalie. While he might finally get his shot with the Montreal Canadiens, it is questionable whether he would not have gotten that with the Lightning.