Vasilevskiy will remain in the Bolts’ goal for a while

by Gary Shelton on July 30, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vasilevskiy signed an eight-year extension with the Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

He is the goaltender for today, and he is the goaltender for the tomorrow. He is the goaltender for the day after, and for a lot of days thereafter.

He is your goalie. And he is your son’s goalie. They will grow old together.

His future is longer than his past. Ahead of him are some 400 games, and some 12,000 saves, and some 320  regular-season victories. He will be here when a lot of us will not.

He is Andrei Vasilevskiy, the goaltender for a lot of the Lightnings’ tomorrows.

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The Lightning agreed to terms with Vasilevskiy on an eight year, $76 million-dollar extension. It’s a heck of a contract, and he’s a heck of a goalie, and it’s a heck of a risk.

What’s the old saying? “It’s hard for an athlete to stay hungry when he wakes up every morning in silk pajamas.” If Vasilevskiy’s performance falls off — because of injury, because of declining skills — then the Bolts will be stuck with a hefty price tag.

But make no mistake: The Bolts had to empty its pockets to sign Vasilevskiy. He’s a premier goalie — fresh off the Vezina trophy. The team could not afford to lose him, or to have him force a trade. Not if it wanted its fans to believe it was still desperate to win a Stanley Cup.

“He’s arguably the best goaltender in the world and he’s just entering his prime now,” said general manager Julian BriseBois. “We had the opportunity to lock him up to a contract that made sense for our organization.”

The contract — along with those of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman — will make things tighter for the Bolts. Will it catch up to them? With Brayden Point’s contract up this year and Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev next  year, the challenges to stay under the cap will come.

Vasilevskiy said the contract will make him hungrier.

“The regular season wasn’t bad, the Vezina Trophy is good too,” Vasilevskiy said. “But the main goal is to win the Stanley Cup, and I won’t be happy until I win it. I’m the same guy and I’m going to continue to work hard. This [contract] motivates me to work even harder.”

Long term goalie contracts are becoming normal in the NHL. Carey Price of Montreal has an eight-year deal. Sergei Bobrovsky has a seven-year deal. Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers has a seven-year deal. Tuukka Rask of Boston has an eight-year deal.

The advantage, of course, is that if his performance remains elite, the Bolts don’t have to worry about his contract status for a long time.

For a long time, they can worry about his other numbers.

 

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