Yzerman’s Opening Goalie Gambit? Bring Back a Familiar Face

Renaud Lavoie is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goalie Riku Helenius to a two year contract.  The two year deal starts in 2012-13 as a two way contract and then becomes a one way contract in 2013-14. The former Bolts 2006 first round draft pick (15th overall) will make $550,000 this season and $650,000 in 2013-14. ($600,000 cap hit)

It’s interesting  that Kings backup goalie and assumed Yzerman target Jonathan Bernier was drafted four spots before the Lightning selected Helenius.

With the one way contract in place for 2013-14, it is evident that GM Steve Yzerman plans on Helenius competing for the starting job and will at the very least be the backup netminder.

Helenius has played in Sweden for Sodertalje SK since leaving the Bolts in 2009.

Yzerman seemed to have Helenius in his sights for some time. He had a face to face meeting with the goalie and his agent in Europe during the World Championships. Following that meeting, Yzerman was quoted as saying, “He’s a very nice young man. I had some discussions with Jay Grossman, and we’ll continue to talk about it.”

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Bolts beat writer Damian Cristodero reminds us that, “Helenius is an interesting case. He was a disappointment and hampered by injury before leaving forEurope during the 2009-10 season in an attempt to revive his career. He did that, playing two years in Sweden and this year leading Jyp to a league championship. Helenius had a 1.64 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in 33 regular-season games, and a 1.73 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage in 13 playoff games.”

Photograph courtesy of klou22.

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About the Author: WB Philp is a published hockey writer who has a built in disdain for Barry Melrose. He covered the Detroit sports teams for many years until he came to his senses and moved to the Sunshine State. He is a true puckhead on a mission from God (Gordie Howe) to make hockey relevant in the south. He lives in Hockey Bay USA and covers the Lightning full time. Did I mention he hates Barry Melrose?

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