Tampa Bay Lightning Goaltenders Outlook


Mar 1, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) makes a save against a Dallas Stars shot during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL offseason is about to get crazy with the draft and the free agency period, so before it all begins to unfold, it’s worth looking at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s outlook at all three phrases of their team.

First up are goaltenders. The Lightning haven’t had good depth at the goaltending position for as long as I can remember but that all changed this past season.

The Bolts finally have the number one goalie they’ve been seeking since Nikolai Khabibulin left after the Stanley Cup success of 2004 in the form of Ben Bishop.

Further to that, the Lightning has depth behind Bishop. Anders Lindback, Kristers Gudlevskis and Andrei Vasilevskiy are all options for the club at both the NHL and AHL level.

Let’s examine each goalie individually (note – only players under contract were considered):

Ben Bishop

It took 10 years, but the Lightning finally found a number one goalie again. Bishop is the undisputed starter of this team and he proved it last season as he had a franchise record 37 wins, while also having a 2.23 GAA and .924 save percentage.

Unfortunately he didn’t play in the playoffs due to injury but Bishop is the guy between the pipes for the Lightning. However, Steve Yzerman is going to have to get the 27-year-old a new contract though as his current deal concludes after the 2014-15 season.

Anders Lindback

Lindback was acquired in 2012 and was expected to morph into the starting goaltender for the Bolts. Fast forward two years and that hasn’t happened. Lindback has ultimately been a disappointment for the Lightning, and while he has shown glimpses of promise, he’s been far too inconsistent. He’s 18-22-3 in 47 games and has a ugly .890 save percentage.

Lindback is a restricted free agent this offseason and his time in Tampa could be up. With the emergence of Gudlevskis and the success of Vasilevskiy in the KHL, Lindback could well be on his way out of town. Having said that, he could wind up as the backup again for Tampa or perhaps the starter in Syracuse. The backup goalie situation at the NHL level is something Yzerman and Jon Cooper need to figure out.

Update: Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is reporting that Lindback will not be getting a qualifying offer from the Lightning, thus allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. However, Erlendsson adds that Yzerman has not shut the door on Lindback returning.

Kristers Gudlevskis

Gudlevskis is the likeliest of the goaltenders to be backing up Bishop once the season gets underway.

He had an incredible 2013-14 season, where he became the first goalie to play in the ECHL, AHL, NHL and Olympics in one season. His game has improved drastically and he looks like he belongs in the big leagues, which was punctuated with a 36-save win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in the his NHL debut towards the end of the regular season.

The 21-year-old still needs to be fine tuned, but he’s proved already that he has the talent to be great. He’s on a two-way contract so he can fluctuate between Tampa and Syracuse if needed.

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Vasilevskiy was drafted 19th overall by the Bolts in the 2012 draft but has spent the last two seasons in the KHL with Salavat after they drafted him seventh overall in the KHL Junior Draft in 2011. He played in just eight games two years ago, but last season played in 28 games, going 14-8-5 with a 2.21 GAA.

In May of this year, Vasilevskiy signed a three-year deal with the Lightning to come to North America. While he’s had success in the KHL, arguably the second best league in the world, he’s still relatively inexperienced, although he won gold as part of Russia’s winning team at this year’s World Championships.

It’s very likely that he spends the season at Syracuse and perhaps makes a few odd starts for Tampa during the NHL season.


Overall, the Lighting is in good shape goaltending wise. Aside from the four players mentioned, the Lightning also have the rights to Adam Wilcox.

The backup goalie situation needs to be solved still and whether Yzerman does that internally or in the free agent market is yet to be seen.

However, for the first time in many years, it’s nice to see the Lighting have organizational depth at the goaltending position.