May 16, 2012, 6:31 PM EDT
The Tampa Bay Lightning are in need of a goalie for next season.
To that end, GM Steve Yzerman is searching high, low and in between for netminding options — a search that has led him to Europe, where a few interesting prospects have emerged.
The Tampa Tribune reports that Yzerman, currently in Finland scouting the World Championships, has expressed interest in bringing back 2006 first-round pick Riku Helenius.
“Helenius had a very good season,” Yzerman said. “We have interest in him returning.”
Helenius, 24, was taken 15th overall by then-GM Jay Feaster but only appeared in one game for the Lightning. He “bolted” (zing!) in 2009 and spent two years playing with Sodertalje of the Swedish Elite League before moving to Jyvaskyla of the Finnish league this year.
He proceeded to lead Jyvaskyla to a championship this season, posting a 1.64 GAA and .936 save percentage in 33 games. In 13 playoff games, he had a 1.73 GAA and .947 save percentage.
The Lightning could also be looking at a European goalie at the draft. They’ll have two first-round picks (10th and 20th overall, pending the result of the remaining conference semifinals) and, according to the Tribune, could set their targets on…
Andrei Vasilevski, a 6-foot-3 Russian who is ranked 21st overall by The Hockey News and 18th by TSN.
6-foot-3 Oscar Dansk, who led Sweden to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships and is ranked 44th overall by The Hockey News and 33rd by TSN.
Tampa Bay scouting director Al Murray says this year’s goalie crop is a good one.
“There are some big kids who are agile and athletic, it’s just they need some refining on their technique in a lot of cases, which is the same with all positions,” Murray said. “But I think, in general, this is a stronger year for goalies.”
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