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Lightning Round: Tampa Bay can’t stop signing goaltenders

General Manager Julien BriseBois is taking care of business

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Scott Thomas Photography

Earlier this week the Tampa Bay Lightning signed a couple of goaltending prospects, Amir Miftakhov and Hugo Alnefelt, to entry level contracts. On Monday, they reportedly signed another youngish netminder. CapFriendly reported that the club had inked Spencer Martin to a deal for next season that would reportedly pay the 25-year-old $800,000 in 2021-22.

Does that mean he’s going to backup Andrei Vasilevskiy next season? Unlikely (although I wouldn’t rule anything out with this team). Martin has dressed for a few games this season, but has yet to actually appear in a NHL game with the Bolts. He did play in three games with the Colorado Avalanche back in 2016-17, but since then has appeared only in the AHL and ECHL. He’s played in 11 games for the Crunch this season and posted a .909 SV% and 2.77 GAA while also spending some time on the Lightning’s taxi squad.

The deal does give the Crunch some veteran experience for next season to go along with the two rookies in Alnefelt and Miftakhov. More importantly, it keeps the Lightning from having to expose Andrei Vasilevskiy in the Seattle expansion draft. By the rules set up by the NHL each club has to expose at least one goaltender that is under contract with professional experience.

Until Monday Vasilevskiy was the only goaltender that fit the criteria as all of the other netminders were set to be unrestricted free agents. While it would be a bold salary cap move to expose the Vezina winner (the Kraken would snap him up in a hurry thus clearing $9.5 million off of the Lightning’s books) it’s highly unlikely a play that Julien BriseBois would make. With Martin under contract (reportedly) for next season he is now eligible to be exposed (and unlikely taken) thus allowing the Lightning to protect Vasilevskiy.

It’s not a slight against Martin, they’ll just be better options out there. The latest mock draft from The Athletic has them drafting Adin Hill from Arizona, Matiss Kivlenieks from Columbus, and Braden Holtby from Vancouver. That’s a pretty solid line-up with a veteran and two relatively young prospects.

It’s interesting that the deal would come down now only because there was no real rush. Perhaps Mr. BriseBois just wanted to clean up some offseason chores before getting lost in the playoff rush. Or, he just had goaltenders on the brain after signing the two young kids. Either way, it’s one less thing we have to speculate about prior to the expansion draft.

Lightning Links

‘I’m crying and I don’t know why’

These are the types of articles that Joe Smith and the staff at The Athletic excel at. Unburdened by having to worry about game recaps he can focus on some of the behind-the-scenes stories about the team. This one is a fascinating look at Ryan Hamilton and how he helped the team prepare mentally for the grueling playoff run last season.

Tampa Bay third line getting it done early

Like Linus’ blanket, the third line is Coach Cooper’s safety net. Whenever things get to crazy, he knows he can throw Yanni Gourde, Barclay Goodrow, and Blake Coleman on the ice to settle things down. More times than not they are starting a period and setting the tone for the game. On some nights, like Sunday, they strike quickly.

Crunch Recap

It was a bit of a mixed bag for the Crunch last week. Hardev has all of the details.

NHL News

The extra punch to the back of Buchnevich’s head, the grabbing of Panarin’s hair as he takes him down. The back-and-forth between the Tom Wilson Defenders and the Tom Wilson is the Devil crowd. We do this every two-or-three weeks with him and frankly it’s exhausting.

Reports are that Panarin will miss the rest of the regular season. There is no word yet on if Wilson will face any supplemental discipline.

Michael Hauser wins NHL debut

After spending the entire season on the Buffalo Sabres taxi squad, former ECHL netminder Michael Hauser won in his NHL debut for the Sabres as they beat the New York Islanders, 4-2. His back-up for the game, Stefanos Lekkas started the season in the ECHL. It’s been a rough season for Buffalo goaltenders as Hauser was the sixth player to play between the pipes for them this year.