Pavel Lysenkov of SovSport.ru has reported (article in Russian) that Alexei Vasilevskiy, brother of Andrei Vasilevskiy, is looking to make a move from Russia to the NHL. Lysenkov reports that three NHL teams, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, are interested in his services. Being the older brother of Andrei, it would likely be attractive to Vasilevskiy for him to come to Tampa Bay.
A right-handed defenseman, Vasilevskiy measures at 5’11” and 205 pounds. He has spent the past three years of his KHL career with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. In those three seasons, he played in 153 games with 19 goals, 35 assists, and 54 points. In 12 playoff games, he had a goal, three assists, and four points. Prior to that, he had three seasons with Salavat Yulaev Ufa where he split time between the KHL, VHL (Russian minor league), and MHL (Russian junior league). He only played 26 games in that span in the KHL with a goal and an assist. He played in 17 playoff games in 2013-14 when Andrei lead Ufa to the KHL Championship round, which they lost. He didn’t record a point in those 17 games.
When I consider Vasilevskiy coming to the Lightning, I wonder how or where he would fit. At 25 years old, it seems unlikely that he would want to play in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch. So the next question is, do the Lightning have room for him at the NHL level? That depends.
If the Lightning decided to move on from Braydon Coburn, Vasilevskiy could take a spot on the third pair next to fellow Russian Mikhail Sergachev. That would also mean likely moving on from one of Slater Koekkoek or Jake Dotchin as well. One definite concern would be how quickly he would adjust to playing on the smaller ice surface. Off the ice I doubt would be a problem for him. With the presence of brother Andrei, Nikita Kucherov, and Mikhail Sergachev, plus the wives of both Andrei and Kucherov, there are enough Russians around the team to ease the off-ice transition to American life for him.
At 25 years old, Vasilevskiy is not subject to the entry level system and can sign a normal NHL contract on whatever terms he and the team can agree to. I would imagine that since he does not have a high profile, does not have gaudy KHL stats, and is not a member of the Russian National Team, the salary demands won’t be exorbitant. I would expect he could be signed for under $1 million. Even on a one-way contract, it would still be a small enough cap hit to not count against the salary cap if he ended up being sent to the AHL.
For now, I’m treating this report as a long shot. It would be a nice story for the Vasilevskiy brothers to be reunited and play together again. However, I’m not counting on it happening at this point. Some other moves are necessary to make it a reality if the expectation is for him to play in the NHL right away.
Until we hear something more official, we’ll keep an eye on it and see if anything comes of this report.