Lightning May Have Backup Goalie Solution From Sabres

It's no secret that the Tampa Bay Lightning have gotten worse in the depth department. This is what comes with winning so often and having to play certain players. Their core is locked up, but they've been forced to go the cheap route to fill the bottom of their lineup, including goaltending.

Andrei Vasilevskiy can play around 60 games a season, but he has already gotten fatigued. He has had no help for a number of seasons now and this season will likely be the same if the team doesn't do anything about it. Jonas Johansson isn't very experienced, so it is the opposite route of what the Lightning have gone with the past few seasons. At 28 years old, he only has 35 games of NHL experience. While the Lightning have had to resort to this because he has a cap hit of $775,000 AAV, they do have another option via trade.

The Buffalo Sabres ran with three goaltenders last season and the trio included Craig Anderson. This time around, Devon Levi has arrived while Anderson has called it a career. With Levi starting and it not making sense for the Sabres to have three goalies on the roster anymore, that means Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Eric Comrie will be competing for one job, the backup role.

If Luukkonen wins the spot, which I think he will, it is unlikely Comrie gets claimed on waivers. This won't be true the other way. Luukkonen is sure to be claimed if he is sent down. With three goalies, The Sabres have the opportunity to trade Luukkonen now that it is becoming clear he isn't their goalie of the future. The Lightning need a better option as their backup and the young Sabres goalie only has a $837,500 AAV cap hit until the end of the season.

This makes sense for both as the Sabres would then get a pretty good asset back because of the RFA status of Luukkonen at the end of the season. This trade would allow the Lightning to rest Vasilevskiy just a little bit more. Luukkonen nearly played as many games last season as Johansson has played in his career and Luukkonen is four years younger.

Photo credit: © Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports