Tampa Bay is pretty serious about its goaltending depth.
On Tuesday, the Bolts announced that Leland Irving — Calgary’s first-round pick (26th overall) at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft — would be attending training camp on a professional tryout basis.
Irving, 26, flamed out of Calgary (pardon the pun) following the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign but revived his career in Finland last year, going 23-18-12 with a 2.14 GAA and .922 save percentage for Jokerit of the SM-liiga. His performance was strong enough that rumors surfaced of a pending move to Russia (with KHL power Avangard Omsk), and now he’s back participating in a NHL training camp.
But the one he chose to attend is curious.
As the headline states, Tampa Bay is loaded in goal — Vezina nominee Ben Bishop is the unquestioned starter, and he’ll be backed up this season by veteran Evgeni Nabokov. In the minors, Tampa Bay has Latvian Olympic hero Kristers Gudlevskis — who appeared in relief during last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs — and ’12 first-rounder Andrei Vasilevskiy, who’s rated as one of the best young goaltending prospects on the planet.
“I think the talent is tremendous,” Nabokov said, per the Bolts website. “The only time I remember that I can compare that to was in San Jose when we had (Vesa) Toskala, (Miikka) Kiprusoff, (Johan) Hedberg and myself…But, now it’s a new generation, and everybody’s bigger and stronger.”