With free agent signings swirling around fast and furious this morning, the Islanders made a minor move by picking up goalie Kristers Gudlevskis from Tampa Bay in exchange for forward Carter Verhaeghe.
If Gudlevskis’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because he led his native Latvia on an unexpected run to the quarter-finals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He made an insane 55 saves in the quarter-final game against Canada, but ultimately lost 2-1. The eventual gold medal winners left the game impressed with the young goalie.
Also impressive is his family’s musical connections (thanks to the great Michael Fornabaio for RTing this).
But he couldn’t quite get a hold in the NHL, spending the vast majority of the last three seasons in the AHL. He went 15-10-7-4 with a .897 save percentage last season for the Syracuse Crunch and is 74-47-19-10 with a .902 SV% for his career. He only played one game in the Crunch’s run to the Calder Cup Final, where they lost to Grand Rapids.
He’s gotten into three games with the Lightning, going 1-0-1.
Verhaeghe came to the Islanders from the Leafs in the Michael Grabner trade after a really good junior career (where he played at Niagara with Josh Ho-Sang. Now I sound like Pierre McGuire. Please kill me.). But he bounced between the ECHL and AHL in his time with the Islanders, without a spot either opening for him or being opened by him.
The Islanders let Bridgeport goalie Stephon Williams walk as a UFA this year, leaving Eamon McAdam and Christopher Gibson as their North American tandem. Chances are, someone will be ticketed for ECHL Wochester this season. Or maybe he’s injury insurance. At least, I kinda hope so. Because if the Islanders start the season with three goalies again...