When the Tampa Bay Lightning depart today for Johnstown, Penn., site of Tuesday’s Kraft Hockeyville exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, they’ll do so with one unexpected addition.
Kevin Poulin was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay on Sunday. The 25-year-old goaltender was a fifth-round pick (126th overall) of the New York Islanders in the 2008 NHL Draft and has remained in the Islanders organization since. Poulin has appeared in 50 regular season NHL games over five years, compiling an 18-25-3 record, .899 save percentage and 3.07 goals-against average.
Poulin also has two games of playoff experience, both appearances coming during the 2012-13 season.
The Montreal native will compete with Kristers Gudlevskis for the backup goalie job while Andrei Vasilevskiy recovers from emergency surgery to remove a blood clot around his left collarbone. Vasilevskiy is expected to miss at least the first month of the regular season.
The Lightning released NHL veteran Ray Emery from his professional tryout on Sunday. Emery allowed six goals to the Stars on Saturday.
“I’ve coached against (Poulin) in the minors,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “He’s a good, young goaltender. Anytime you can add a player of his talent to help with our depth, it was a no-brainer for us.”
With Vasilevskiy out for a while and Gudlevskis coming off an upper-body injury sustained at the Lightning Prospect Tournament in Estero, the Bolts’ depth at the goalie position needed support.
“We’re one more injury away from having nobody back there,” Cooper said. “We’ve got a couple guys in Europe right now [at Syracuse Crunch training camp]. There’s nothing wrong with having depth at the position. How it plays out after that, we’ve got time to figure that out.”
Poulin said he had a “good” camp this year with the Islanders and played well during his half a game in net during the preseason.
“I’m just going to come here, battle for a spot and just give the team a chance to win every time I play,” Poulin said.
Poulin has never played for another NHL organization but said he welcomed the opportunity to ply his trade elsewhere.
“I was actually really, really excited,” he said. “I was really happy. I know Tampa’s a great organization, and I was actually really relieved to be picked up on waivers.”
GOOD NEWS FOR PAQUETTE
X-rays on the left leg of Cedric Paquette came back negative, and the 22-year-old will miss only a few days of training camp according to Cooper.
Paquette took a hard slap shot off the leg in the third period of Saturday’s 6-3 loss in Dallas. Paquette was hesitant to put weight on the leg as he was helped off the ice and into the training room. Following the game, he was seen walking in the hallway but with a noticeable limp.
“I thought it was going to be worse, there’s no question,” Cooper said.
Paquette was attempting to block a shot from the blue line when he was struck by the puck.
“You love seeing that, but you hate seeing that,” Cooper said. “He’s just a gamer. It doesn’t matter, regular season or exhibition, he’s laying out to block a shot. Fortunately for him, there was no major damage. He’ll be out for a few days, but he should be right back.”