The signing was a little bit odd when first announced -- former Calgary Flames first round selection Leland Irving was headed to Tampa Bay Lightning camp on a professional tryout.
With the depth in net already in place in the organization, the goal was likely just to get Irving in for camp to balance out the groups with six goaltenders (adding to Ben Bishop, Evgeni Nabokov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Kristers Gudlevskis, and Allen York), with no real plan to sign him to a contract or bring him into the organization long-term.
The benefit for the player, obviously, is some exposure in North America, but it's not surprising that Irving (or, likely, his agent) was still fielding offers from other leagues and teams looking for more than a PTO somewhere. Salavat Ufa of the KHL called, and he answered:
Leland Irving's KHL deal with Salavat is set, per agent Ritch Winter. So he won't be coming on tryout invite with #tblightning— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) September 12, 2014
The irony there is Ufa is the team Lightning prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy played for last season, playing 28 regular season games (.923 save percentage) and 18 more in the playoffs (.934). So the hole on Ufa's depth chart created by Vasilevskiy is filled by Irving, leaving the Lightning still with just 5 goaltenders for camp.
Steve Yzerman and staff will likely continue the search for a sixth goalie to suit up, but they don't have much notice -- rookies reported yesterday and camp starts in earnest on September 18, less than a week from now. Might a former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender -- Mathieu Garon, who is still local -- be brought in last minute?