The Tampa Bay Lightning season is over. With a long summer ahead of us, we’re going to hand out grades to each player on the roster. You did your part submitting your grades via the reader survey, and they are presented along with our writers’ grades. All told, about 360 of you submitted grades, which is less than last season, but that’s understandable considering how the season went. Follow along with the series through the month of May and share your thoughts in the comments.
When the Lightning traded for Louis Domingue in the fall of 2017, it looked like his NHL career was in jeopardy. He had been pushed so far down the depth chart in Arizona that he wasn’t even getting AHL minutes. Meanwhile, the Syracuse Crunch were playing great hockey everywhere but in net. Julien BriseBois traded for Domingue to shore up the Crunch’s goaltending and in the two seasons since that trade, Domingue has gone from being on the fringes of professional hockey to looking like he might get a second chance at competing for a starting role when his time in Tampa finishes.
After locking down the Syracuse job in 2017-2018, Domingue made his way back to the NHL later that season. He entered training camp last summer as the assumed number two goalie behind Andrei Vasilevskiy. He held that job for the whole season playing in 26 games, which was his most at the NHL level since he played 31 in 2016-2017. He played for an extended stretch while Vasilevskiy recovered from a broken foot in November and December. During that time, he played almost every night as the Lightning were hesitant to turn to their third goalie Eddie Pasquale.
During the season, Domingue set a record for consecutive wins by a Lightning goaltender with eleven. The streak started during the Vasilevskiy injury and lasted all the way into February. While goaltender wins aren’t a meaningful stat from an evaluation perspective, it still showcases his ability to play consistent serviceable hockey coming off the bench. He wasn’t stellar every night during that streak but he was good enough to keep the game close and the Lightning had the offense to keep him on the right side of the scoreboard.
The following card shows how the community graded Domingue this season as well as his goals saved above expected, which comes from Evolving Hockey. The xG includes all situations.
In terms of goals saved above expected, Domingue was below average but still well within the acceptable range for a backup. He didn’t do enough to put him in demand for team’s looking to acquire a starter this summer but if he can build on this success next year, he could be an option for a team looking for a time share in net in 2020-2021.
In terms of grades, the readers and writers were close again with the readers giving him a small bump up to an A- from the B+ he got from the writers. I gave him a B. He did everything the team asked of him. He wasn’t spectacular but he was competent and reliable.
Looking forward to next season, I don’t expect any changes in the Lightning’s goaltending situation in the NHL. The only prospect in the system, Connor Ingram, seems to have fallen out of favor with the team and finished his season in the ECHL with Orlando. Without anyone to challenge him for his spot in camp, Domingue should return as the backup unless something drastic happens.
Beyond his role in net, he also seemed to emerge as a strong personality in the locker room as the season progressed. He frequently featured in moments of levity after games including this classic where he set up as the bouncer in the tunnel.
For players who don’t play every night, fitting in with the team culture is important. Domingue seemed to find a home in Tampa last season and a new role in keeping the mood light. That’s an ideal scenario for a backup goalie.
After next season, Domingue will be an unrestricted free agent. Realistically, this is probably his last year in Tampa. He’ll be hoping to play well enough that he has a chance to sign a new contract with a team where he has a better chance of starting. In Tampa, that path looks blocked for the foreseeable future as Vasilevskiy is just 24 years old and appears to have a long bright career ahead of him.
Whatever happens after next season, Domingue’s time in Tampa has gone as well as anyone could have hoped after the trade. He starred in the AHL. He moved up to the NHL and played well enough to stick. He shined in his opportunity when Vasilevskiy was hurt. And as the season progressed, he found new ways to help the team and engage with the fans even when he wasn’t playing.