Now that John Gibson has matriculated to the Anaheim Ducks' NHL roster, Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevsky may be the best goaltending prospect outside of the league right now. The 19-year-old netminder was a first-round pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012. He currently plays for Salavat Yulayev in the KHL and put his team on his back in the playoffs.
Vasilevsky's most dazzling save of the postseason came Friday in Game 5 in the Gagarin Cup semifinals against the Mike Keenan-led Metallurg Magnitogorsk. With the score tied 0-0 in the second period, Vasilevsky had a flurry in front of his net and kicked the puck out to an oncoming Metallurg player. The Salavat goalie dove to his left with an out-stretched glove and pulled the puck off the line.
It's a miraculous save for the young netminder, but it was not enough to keep Salavat from falling in the game. Metallurg closed out the series with a 1-0 overtime win and advanced to the final Gagarin Cup Final against HC Lev.
Side note: Who would have thought 20 years after winning the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers, Mike Keenan would have an opportunity to win another title... in Russia?
Vasilevsky finished the playoffs with a .931 save percentage and 2.05 goals-against average, which is incredibly impressive for a 19-year-old playing professionally or anywhere, really.
With Salavat's season over, Vasilevsky is eligible to sign with the Lightning, which Steve Yzerman reportedly wants to do right away.
Vasilevskiy's season in Russia ended today. Yzerman has said Lightning would like to sign him as soon as possible.— Damian Cristodero (@LightningTimes) April 11, 2014
There are some really incredible young goaltenders out there and Vasilevsky is undoubtedly one of the best in the bunch. With the way Ben Bishop has played and the fact the Lightning have this kid and Latvian Olympic sensation Kristers Gudlevskis in the system has to make Yzerman smile widely.