The Lightning goaltender is expected to be out of action for at least two months after surgery on a back injury. Tampa will likely look to acquire a short-term placement as neither of the team's backups, Jonas Johansson and Matt Tomkins, have NHL starter experience.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Anyway, Andrei Vasilevskiy out for the next two months with a back injury. Jonas Johansson is the only goalie right now-- I mean, depending on when you get this, maybe they finally get a goalie on waivers, maybe Allen Walsh's phone gets called for Jaroslav Halak. Maybe it's some other goalie that they end up signing or trading for. I believe Leafs fans are wondering if Martin Jones would be a casualty as a result of this--
OMAR: He's gone. He's gone. He's gone. I've accepted it.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: You've already resigned to the fact of losing Martin Jones?
OMAR: I saw that tweet, I'm like, Martin Jones is gone. There might have been a chance he could sneak through-- gone. Done.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Do you think the Lightning could survive not having Andre Vasilevskiy for two months? Sam, do you think this team is still going to be able to make it work?
SAMANTHA CHANG: Yes.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Straight up.
SAMANTHA CHANG: Not fully convinced this isn't just another cap maneuver.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Conspiracy theory time.
OMAR: I mean--
SAMANTHA CHANG: I just feel like that's a really Tampa Bay thing to do.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Wow. Whoa.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: I mean, this team has done it-- this team has done it once, twice. It wouldn't shock me if a third time--
SAMANTHA CHANG: They're literally just cycling through their corps. It's like they had a deal-- like, each of us sits out a year.
OMAR: I mean, that's-- OK, but, like, let's honestly think about that, right? Does Tampa care if they end up making the playoffs as a wild card? No.
SAMANTHA CHANG: No.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: No. Nor should they.
OMAR: They're the definition of the regular season doesn't matter. So if they lose a whole bunch of games but still, like, have a hot run at the end and make it in by, like, a point or two, then, like, who cares? Sam, honestly, that-- yeah, that makes so much sense. Because, what, that's, like, what, $9.5 off the book? Oh. You can do a lot with $9.5 million, man.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. But, like, I mean, you know, $9.5, I mean, you still have to put him back. It's not like Tampa has all that space.
SAMANTHA CHANG: Well, in the playoffs.
OMAR: In the playoffs.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Playoffs, Yeah.
OMAR: They could--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK, but, like, Andrei Vasilevskiy is not going to sit out a whole regular season here. Come on.
OMAR: But what if he does?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. But if they do that, then they have to account for the fact they have no goaltending.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Look up Jonas Johansson's stats.
OMAR: Score. 7-5. Just win 7-5, 6-3, 5-1. Just goals. No defense. '80s Oilers-- just goal, goal, goal.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Look, I want a shirt that says you don't need the goalie, you need a goalie to get you to the playoffs. We could find a way to shorten that. I am the biggest fan of that saying.
But, like, a whole-- like, if it gets to a point where Tampa is really going to do shenanigans and be like, you know what? We're just going to keep Vasilevskiy for the playoffs, which are in a-- six months from now, whenever that is. Come on, y'all.
Tampa is not going to be able to survive with Jonas Johansson and Martin Jones. No disrespect.
OMAR: Why wouldn't they, though? Like, again, Julian, like, every year--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: You need goalies to get you-- you need people to get you to the playoffs.
OMAR: But every year, a goalie comes out of nowhere. Vegas--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, in the playoffs.
OMAR: Vegas had five. Vegas had five goalies last year. You're telling me Tampa can't find someone to come out of nowhere and get them in? Martin Jones-- a lot of Seattle Kraken fans say the reason they made the playoffs is because of Jones.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Martin Jones, yes. Yes.
OMAR: If Jones is on the team, I think they're fine. It's not ideal, but I think they'll be fine.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Look--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I don't know-- you know what? I don't know. We have to-- I have to do proper prognostications on who's going to make it and who's not going to make it. But, like, I don't know-- it's hard for me to count out Tampa Bay, but that's a lot-- those guys have had a lot of mileage on them, man, over these last few years.
I hope they took advantage of that offseason, which is a lot longer than they've normally had-- not since that year they were embarrassed by Columbus. You guys remember that? They lost-- they were, like, the best team and they lost to Columbus. Remember that?
That's such a distant memory. And they did possibly everything they could to make us forget about that. But that's-- it's been that long since they've had that much of a break after a playoff series. I hope for the sake of those guys that they were able to rest up. And also, it's not the same teams as before with the depth on the second and third line.
They still have some good, decent pieces in and around the lineup, but it's not the same. And I think they're at the very least going to take a hit. But to your point, yes, they don't need to win the division. They could care less about that. As long as they get in, even as a wild card, they'll be fine. We'll see how that goes.