Vasilevskii, the 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft, spent the past two years with Salavat in the Kontinental Hockey League, where he helped the team to the KHL semifinal round this season.
“We had to be patient, knowing that when we drafted him that he was under contract,’’ Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said. “It was a good thing, he was over there and playing a lot, he has really developed well in the two years, and we are excited to bring him over.’’
This season playing for Salavat, Vasilevskii posted a regular season record of 14-8-3 with a 2.21 goals against average. In 18 playoff games, the 19-year-old finished 9-9 with a 1.99 GAA and .934 save percentage. He medaled in three consecutive World Junior championships, winning silver in 2012 and bronze the past two seasons. Vasilevskii is currently part of Russia’s roster for the World Championships, which begins Saturday in Minsk, Belarus.
While Vasilevskii will come into training camp in September competing for a spot on the NHL roster, ideally he will begin his North American career playing for Syracuse in the American Hockey League.
“We will be conservative and cautious in our approach with him,’’ Yzerman said. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, just let them come in and play. We think we have a really good goaltending prospect here and goalies, more so than any other position, are less predictable. So let’s wait and see how he does in training camp and figure out where we go from there.
“We think he’s a great prospect ... he’s excelled at every level, and his next step is to come over here.’’
In addition to Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay also has top prospects Kristers Gudlevskis - who won his only NHL start this season - and Adam Wilcox, who led the University of Minnesota to the NCAA Frozen Four championship game this season in his second season with the Gophers.