They’ve been identified as one of the teams most in need of help in goal. On Friday, the Tampa Bay Lightning addressed that issue by acquiring netminder Anders Lindback from the Nashville Predators.
The Bolts also received forward Kyle Wilson and a seventh-round draft pick, while coughing up two second-round and one third-round selections along with the rights to goaltender Sebastien Caron.
Lindback is highly regarded, but used sparingly in Nashville; the 24-year-old native of Gavle, Sweden has been the backup to world-class goaltender Pekka Rinne for the past two seasons.
Can Lindback provide top-line service between the pipes? Tampa apparently thinks so. His NHL numbers are simply too small to provide a reliable sample: a 16-13 record in 38 regular-season games with two shutouts, a 2.53 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. He’s played exactly 13 minutes in the playoffs.
To his credit, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is not overstating Lindback’s case. “We believe Anders will join the team and give us a nice lift at the goaltending position as we prepare for the 2012-13 season,” Yzerman said in an interview. “He has the potential to develop into the No. 1 goaltender we covet.”
Fair enough. You don’t want to put too much pressure on the newest member of your team by handing him the No. 1 job right away — at least, not in public. On the other hand, Tampa faces a formidable defensive challenge. This is a team which yielded the most goals in the league last season (278, or 19 more than the Toronto Maple Leafs, for crying out loud!).
It’s telling that the Hockey News currently lists Lindback at the top of the Lightning depth chart above Mathieu Garon, Riku Helenius and 2012 Calder Cup winner Dustin Tokarski. Last season’s other significant starter, Dwayne Roloson, is now fifth on the chart and is a free agent; the club has not indicated yet whether it will re-sign the 42-year-old to another one-year deal.
They have the right idea by taking a patient approach with Lindback, and they’ve shown they can do that. Of the four goalies they employed last season, Garon got more starts (44) than Roloson (31) Tokarski (5) and Caron (2). There is enough firepower with the Macedonian Assassin, Steven Stamkos, and the Mighty Mite, Martin St. Louis, to keep them competitive in many games. It also seems safe to say the move takes Tampa out of the Roberto Luongo sweepstakes; the Canucks puckstopper had been linked recently with possible moves to both the Lightning and the Leafs.