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The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy for an extended period after he underwent successful surgery to repair a lumbar disc herniation in his back, according to an announcement from the team. Vasilevskiy is expected to miss approximately the first two months of the 2023-24 regular season as a result.
Vasileveskiy has been a force in net for the Lightning since breaking into the NHL during the 2014-15 season. During that time, he’s racked up a 263-123-28 record with the team, including helping lead Tampa Bay to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021. Vasilevskiy also won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender in 2019, while winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Vasilevskiy is coming off of a season in which he put together a 34-22-4 record to go along with a a 2.65 goals-against-average, a .915 save percentage and four shutouts in 2022-23.
The Lightning have quite a bit of uncertainty behind Vasilevskiy at the moment. The two expected goalies on the roster are Jonas Johansson and Hugo Alnefelt. Johannson, 28, has bounced around the NHL with teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers, and he has tallied a 3.35 career goals-against average. Meanwhile, Alnefelt has just one career NHL game under his belt during the 2021-22 season, when he played a period against the Panthers and allowed three goals during that span.
Tampa Bay had veteran goalie Brian Elliott as Vasilevskiy’s backup throughout the 2022-23 season. Elliott is currently a free agent, but the Lightning could bring in Elliott based on familiarity.