The Tampa Bay Lightning have extended goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to an eight-year, $76 million contract.
Vasilevskiy is coming off of a stellar season, holding a 39-10-4 record with a 2.40 goals against average (GAA) and a .925 save percentage (SV%). He also collected six shutouts. His performance in 2018-19 earned him his first Vezina Trophy, as the top goaltender in the NHL.
The Russian netminder backstopped the Lightning to one of the best regular-season finishes in recent memory, as the club finished with 128 points. They lost just 16 games all season, but came back down to earth in the playoffs. They were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, going home much earlier than expected.
In the postseason, Vasilevskiy seemed to struggle, as did the entire team. He let in 15 goals over the four games, collecting a 3.82 GAA and a .856 SV%.
His 39 wins led all goalies this past season, after collecting a league-high 44 wins in 2017-18. In that season, the goaltender broke out with a 44-17-3 record, 2.62 GAA and a .920 SV%. His performance over the last two campaigns have earned him this significant contract extension.
“The Lightning are very proud to extend Andrei for another eight years today,” Ligtning general manager Julien BriseBois said. “Since joining the organization Andrei has shown unmatched work ethic and professionalism both on and off the ice. We look forward to him continuing his career in Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future.”
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, about $45 million of the new deal will be bonuses. Vasilevskiy is entering the last season of a three-year, $10.5 million deal. His new $9.5 million AAV is a significant upgrade from the $3.5 million AAV he’s currently earning.
The bonus structure works out to pay the goalie $8.5 million in 2020-21, $10 million in 2021-22, and $6.5 million in 2022-23. That’s $25 million of the $45 million in bonuses paid out in the first three years.
The 19th overall pick in 2012, Vasilevskiy has become one of the best goaltenders in the league, going 124-59-15 with a 2.55 GAA and a .919 SV%.
Vasilevskiy’s Contract Among Superstars
We may be seeing a new trend of goaltending contracts in the NHL. Earlier this offseason, fellow Russian netminder Sergei Bobrovsky signed a seven-year, $70 million deal with the Florida Panthers. With the contract, the two-time Vezina winner became the second-highest paid goalie in the league.
He’s behind only Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens, who has a cap hit of $10.5 million. Vasilevskiy comes in third on that list now, above New York Rangers’ starter Henrik Lundqvist and his $8.5 million AAV. Moving forward, it seems that the price tag for a starting goalie is rising.
The new deal also puts Vasilevskiy in elite company among skaters. His AAV is the same as his captain, Steven Stamkos. It’s also the same as Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin and 2019 Stanley Cup Champion Vladimir Tarasenko.
Lightning Has Core Locked Up
With this deal, the Lightning look poised to remain a contender for years to come. Six other players are under contract through the 2023-24 season including Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde. As long as they can find their game in the postseason, expect the team to be in the Stanley Cup conversation for the foreseeable future.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.