Less than two weeks before the Tampa Bay Lightning kick off training camp for the upcoming season, the club loses its projected backup goaltender. Andrei Vasilevskiy is out for at least two months after a blood clot was removed yesterday at Tampa General Hospital. From the team press release:
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had successful surgery on Thursday, September 3 to remove a blood clot from near his left collarbone and to treat a type of Vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced this morning. The procedure was performed by Dr. Karl Illig, Director of Vascular Surgery at Tampa General Hospital. Vasilevskiy is expected to fully recover and he should be able to return to the ice in 2-3 months.
Vasilevskiy, a 2012 1st round draft pick, made his North American debut last season with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL and then the Lightning, spelling for an injured Ben Bishop before replacing veteran goalkeeper Evgeni Nabokov as Bishop's backup. He went 7-5-1 with a 2.36 GAA and a .918 save percentage in 16 regular season games with the Lightning. High expectations are on Vasya with the club long-term.
A quick overview of Thoracic Output Syndrome:
Thoracic outlet syndrome affects people of all ages and gender. The condition is common among athletes who participate in sports that require repetitive motions of the arm and shoulder, such as baseball, swimming, volleyball, and other sports.
... Such as blocker handling in hockey.
This news is a bit jarring with the close start to the prospect tournament in Estero and the forthcoming start to Bolts camp. The simple solution is to promote Kristers Gudlevskis from the Syracuse Crunch into the backup role for Bishop for the start of the season. Gudlevskis played 46 games in Syracuse last season posting a 25-14-4 record with a 2.81 GAA and a .900 save percentage. This was seen as a bit of a letdown for the netminder's development; he didn't seem to progress from his first North American season with the Crunch (34 games played in 2013-14, a 2.68 GAA, .901 save percentage and an 18-11-4 record). Those expectations rose, in part, by Gudlevskis effort in the 2014 Winter Olympics when facing the Canadian National team.
There's also the potential that Steve Yzerman taps the free agent market or trades for a backup goalie, which complicates the arrangement just a tad. An acquired backup would replace Vasilevskiy in the NHL all season most likely and cause a displacement in Syracuse as well (Vasya returning to the Crunch with Adam Wilcox or Gudlevskis sent to the ECHL while the club already has a 3rd string goalie in Allen York). Oh, and add the fact there is no ECHL affiliate for the Lightning this season due to new ECHL rules (one team, one parent affiliate).
Ben Bishop had workhorse duties with the Lightning last season, taking the glut of ice time in goal with 62 appearance, a 40-13-5 record, a .916 save percentage and a 2.32 goals-against average. Vasilevskiy's prescreens in Tampa this season as thought to take away some of the pressure from Bish.