With every saves, from Andrei Vasilevskiy, a second-round kingpin against the Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning can thank the Detroit Red Wings. How did the Lightning become the best goalkeeper in the world?
Despite a surprising spot among the four aces under coach Guy Boucher’s impetus in 2011, Tampa still considers itself rebuilding next season, at least considering amassing assets crucial to improving the team long-term.
The Lightning will miss the playoffs in 2011-12 and several players are on the market before the trade deadline, including Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie.
The top two will earn second-round picks. Avalanche general manager at the time, Greg Sherman, is interested in Downie who, at 24, is coming off a 28-point-in-55-game season along with plenty of checks and hitting.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is interested in getting a first-round pick for Downie, but Sherman no longer has his in 2012, having traded him to the Washington Capitals a year earlier for goalie Semyon Varlamov.
But Yzerman learned of his former Red Wings colleague Ken Holland’s interest in Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey, drafted by Detroit in 2003 but lost on waivers in 2008.
Quincey, now 26, had had time to develop and already had 23 points in 54 games on the clock with the Avalanche, in addition to playing an average of more than 22 minutes per game.
Once the deal between Lightning and Avalanche was complete, Yzerman called Holland to tell him the news and offer him, Quincey.
Holland wanted to add muscle to the defense heading into the playoffs and sacrificed his first-round pick, 19Y in all, to get Quincey. Detroit lost in the first round to Nashville that year but was able to retain Quincey for four more seasons. But Quincey never rose from fringe defense status in Detroit.
The Lightning had their first-round pick, 10Y rank, and that of the Red Wings at 19Y. On the eve of the draft, Vasilevskiy had been the target of Tampa scouts led by Al Murray.
Still, Peterborough Petes defenseman Slater Koekkoek was selected with 18 points in 26 games in the 10th of the Ontario Junior League. Koekkoek was never able to establish himself as an NHL regular.
“They (the Lightning scouts) were convinced that Vasilevskiy would still be available at 7 p.m.Y range”, a source close to the file confided to us on Tuesday night.
Vasilevskiy even ranked ahead of Koekkoek on the Lightning list, and among the best in his class this vintage, including Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk, and Morgan Rielly, and Filip Forsberg, among others.
The first twenty players were chosen in 2012
- Nail Yakupov, Edmonton
- Ryan Murray, Colon
- Alex Galchenyuk, Montréal
- Griffin Reinhart, Long Island
- Morgan Rielly, Toronto
- Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim
- Matt Dumba, Minn.
- Derrick PouliotPittsburgh
- Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg
- Slater Koekkoek, Tampa
- Philip Forsberg, Washington
- Mikhail Grigorenko, Buffalo
- Radek Faksa, Dallas
- Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo
- Cody Ceci, Ottawa
- Tom WilsonWashington
- Tomas Hertl, San Jose
- Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago
- Andrei Vasilevsky, Tampa
- Scott Laughton, Philadelphia
After going through the exercise of guessing the selections of the other 17 teams to choose from, using an internal mock draft put together by Tampa scouts, it was concluded that no club would be interested in a Russian goalkeeper before the 19th.Y range.
The Lightning and Vasilevskiy are now eight wins away from winning a third straight Stanley Cup, their first since the New York Islanders in 1982.
Evander Kane – a profitable acquisition!
Many rolled their eyes when Oilers general manager Ken Holland acquired controversial forward Evander Kane in January. And we can understand the reaction. Kane had cheated to evade COVID protocol in the American League. His gambling addiction is notorious, Kane even went bankrupt this year when he struck it rich on a $49 million contract. The San Jose Sharks didn’t end their deal with him for anythin.
But Kane may have discovered that the Oilers could be his last chance to play NHL hockey. He scored two more goals Tuesday night in a 5-3 win to give Edmonton a three-game lead against the Calgary Flames. It was his fifth goal in the last two games, his 12th in 11 games since the start of the playoffs. He is now seven goals shy of Reggie Leach and Jarri Kurri’s record. The presence of Connor McDavid, now with 25 points in just 11 games, obviously doesn’t hurt…
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