Lightning prospect followers expected one high profile Tampa Bay draftee to be selected in today's Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, but not two.
Andrei Vasilevski, the Lightning's second first round selection (19th overall) in last week's NHL Entry Draft, is reportedly trying to buy out his contract with Ufa of the KHL to play Canadian junior hockey. As of early Wednesday morning, the Lightning said there was no news regarding Vasilevski, and after several teams took goaltenders in the first round, it appeared his situation with Ufa was far from settled.
While the Valisevski watch was in full effect, Nikita Kucherov, last year's second round pick out of CSKA in Russia, was taken by Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts. The Remparts may lose former Kucherov linemate and Sabres 2012 first round pick Mikhail Grigorenko to the NHL next year and Kucherov would provide instant offense for Roy's roster. There is also a possibility they are reunited in Quebec City. Roy said Tuesday that the Sabres were non-committal to Grigorenko's immediate NHL future, so it is still possible he could return to Quebec.
Kucherov spent most of last year with CSKA's junior team, where he racked up 24 goals and 41 points in just 23 games. He also had seven points in seven games at the World Junior Championships. He was able to get in 18 games at the professional level with CSKA's KHL side, but only managed a goal and five points in limited action. His selection was surprising to many prospect followers as Kucherov is expected to challenge for more games in the KHL this year. However, initial reports on Twitter from a sports.ru reporter said Kucherov was coming to North America. Roy, who has to secure Kucherov's release from CSKA, is already talking about where Kucherov could fit in his lineup.
Should Kucherov join the wide-open QMJHL, he could very well top 120 points next season.
Quebec chose Kucherov with the 43rd pick in the Import Draft, near the bottom of the first of the two round draft.
Vasilevski ended up a second round selection as the newly-renamed Mississauga Steelheads took him with pick number 69.
Mississauga lost last year's No.1 goalie and Vasilevski could make his path to the NHL a lot clearer by joining the Steelheads in the Ontario Hockey League. It's worth a shot for Mississauga, who is no doubt hoping the off-the-ice situation can be settled shortly.
When and how do you judge a trade or draft pick?
Earlier this week I tweeted from Bolt Prospects that it was the 10-year anniversary of then Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster sending the fourth overall pick to Philadelphia for a young forward Tampa Bay thought had some upside and two second round picks. At the time, jaws hit the floor from Nanaimo to Naples. I was standing on the line that divided my living room from my dining room and saw the trade go across the ticker on what I believe was ESPN-2. Yes, I remember exactly where I was standing when I saw the news.
* U18 WJC Bronze Medal
* U20 WJC Silver Medal
Vasilevskiy is a product of the Tolpar Ufa system, where after playing in the lower junior ranks he was selected to Russia's 2010 U18 World Junior Championships team. He posted a 2.65 GAA and .897 save percentage in the tournament, but Russia did not medal.
In 2010-2011, Vasilevskiy took over as the co-starter for Ufa's MHL team, posting a 1.81 GAA and .937 save percentage in 14 games. Won bronze with the Russians at the 2011 U18 World Junior Championships after posting a 2.62 GAA and .936 save percentage in 6 games. At the conclusion of the season, he was drafted by parent club Ufa with their 1st round pick, 7th overall, in the KHL Draft.
Became the full-time starter for Ufa's MHL team and shined with a 2.23 GAA and .923 save percentage in 27 games. Named the starter for Russia's U20 World Junior Championship team despite being underage and performed well with a 2.01 GAA and .953 save percentage in 5 games, although he was pulled in Russia's upset win over Canada. Russia went on to win Silver in the tournament. Later selected for a third U18 World Junior Championships. Russia did not medal, but Vasilevskiy had a solid 2.20 GAA and .922 save percentage in 5 games. Finished the season ranked the #1 European goaltender by the NHL Central Scouting Service and was selected in the 1st round, 19th overall, by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Vasilevskiy has a big frame and covers the net really well. Impressive mobility and quickness. A technically skilled goaltender as well. Consistent." (EP 2012)
"That rare netminder who is a game-changer. Huge and highly athletic for his size. Stunningly calm under huge pressure - underage goalies who excel at World Juniors are unheard of. Plays with an economy of motion - lets the play come to him. Impossible to beat down low with long legs that cover post-to-post. Terrific using pads to angle shots to corners. Gets great lateral push off either skate. Tough to beat up high even when down in butterfly - has the presence to keep his shoulders up and take away top corners. Has quick feet, a crisp glove, excellent flexibility, and is good on rebound control. Recovers quickly to get into position for second chances. Strong pads with holding the post to prevent opposition from wrap-arounds. Gets back to deep in net and loses his angles - needs to stay at top of crease. Poor puckhandler around net - shouldn't even attempt it.
Projection: #1 goalie for a playoff caliber club.
Style compares to: Carey Price" (Red Line Report)
"Andrei plays with a combination of skill, sense and poise. There doesn't seem to be any situation in the game that rattles him. His size makes him imposing but his ability to read the play and move to advantageous position can intimidate shooters. He is an excellent skater; agility, side-to-side mobility, quickness and strength in his legs allows him to meet the challenges that all goaltenders face. He does not show you a repeated style but will react to the situation and play it accordingly which is another challenge for shooters in trying to get the better of him. Technically, he is sound and doesn't lose positioning when he moves and he has the ability to arrive at the spot to make save in good position, not a vulnerable one. He reads the play so well and has excellent skill and he moves with an economy that makes it appear effortless but it begins with excellent mental focus and allows him to remain a 'step ahead' of the play. He is dependable, consistent and timely which are important traits of successful goaltenders." (Craig Button, TSN)
Big, quick, and athletic, but also very calm in nets with an economy of movement. Good glove hand and excellent rebound control for such a young player.
Like many young goaltenders, can tend to play too deep in his crease. Not a strong puckhandler. Developmental situation in Russia is questionable and will always be a flight risk to the KHL whenever he does come to North America, ie "the Russian factor." Latest reports state he plans on coming to North America for the 2013-2014 season. OHL Mississauga holds his junior rights, though he could play in the AHL if the Lightning so desire.
|2009-2010||Salavat Yulaev Ufa U16||Russia U16||26||-||-||||
|Salavat Yulaev Ufa U16||Russia U16 Finals||5||-||-||||
|Russia U16 (all)||International-Jr||3||-||-||||
|2010-2011||Salavat Yulaev Ufa U17||Russia U17||16||-||-||||
|Salavat Yulaev Ufa U17||Russia U17 Finals||5||-||-||||
|Russia U18||Hlinka Memorial||4||3.14||.906||||
|Russia U18 |WJAC-19|||WJAC-19||3||3.29||.926||||
|2012-2013||Salavat Yulaev Ufa||KHL||8||2.22||.924|||||Playoffs||0||-||-|
|Russian Selects U20||Jr Super Series||3||3.01||.904||||
|Russia U20||CAN-RUS Challenge||2||3.42||-||||
|2013-2014||Salavat Yulaev Ufa||KHL||28||2.21||.923|||||Playoffs||18||1.99||.934|
|2014-2015||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||16||2.36||.918|||||Playoffs||4||3.19||.895|
|2015-2016||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||24||2.76||.910|||||Playoffs||8||2.76||.925|
|2016-2017||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||-||-||-||||
Player statistics © www.eliteprospects.com
G Andrei Vasilevski, 6'3" 204 lbs, Ufa Jr. (RUS Jr.), Catches: Left
CSS #1 European Goaltender, ISS #3 Goaltender, RLR #10 Overall, THN #21 Overall, TSN #24 Overall
2011-2012 Statistics: 27 GP, 2.23 GAA, .931 sv%
Vasilevski was considered the top goaltender in this draft and likely would have been a lottery pick were it not for the fabled "Russian factor" depressing his draft stock. Fans may know him more for being pulled in the U20 World Junior Championship Semifinals against Canada, but prior to that game Vasilevski was the most dominant netminder in that tournament despite the fact he was an underage player.
Pros: Big, athletic, and very calm. Defines "economy of motion" between the pipes. Very good glove hand. Excellent rebound control for a young netminder.
Cons: Like many young goaltenders, can have a tendency to play too deep in his crease. Below average handling the puck. Developmental situation isn't ideal in Russia and he could be a flight risk to the KHL if he doesn't have immediate success when he comes over to North America. "The Russian factor."
Red Line Report projected Vasilevski as a number one goaltender for a playoff caliber club and compared him to Montreal's Carey Price.