11/24: CapFriendly is reporting that Tomkins has successfully cleared waivers and has been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. Also, the Lightning will activate Vasilevskiy from LTIR, which effectively eliminates all salary cap space for the Lightning for the 2023-24 season.
11/23: The Tampa Bay Lightning have placed goaltender Matt Tomkins on waivers, which is the last logistical step needed to make room for Andrei Vasilevskiy’s return. Vasilevskiy participated in team practices last week and head coach Jon Cooper said there was a “really good chance” that he plays on the team’s upcoming three-game road trip.
This is huge news, as the 9-6-5 Lightning – who currently sit in 10th-place league-wide – will now add a former Vezina Trophy winner back into their lineup. Vasilevskiy has been no short of tremendous in the NHL, recording a save percentage higher than .910 in all nine seasons of his career. This includes the .915 he set in 60 games last season. To add to it, only Juuse Saros and Connor Hellebuyck appeared in more games for their squads between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, speaking to the reliability that Vasilevskiy has added in recent years.
Tomkins managed to slot into three NHL games in Vasilevskiy’s absence, going 1-2-0 and recording a .889 save percentage. They were the first three NHL games for the former seventh-round pick, who has had a journeyman career since hearing his name in the 2012 NHL Draft. Tomkins was drafted out of the AJHL and played four years at The Ohio State University after his juniors career. He turned pro in the 2017-18 season and bounced between the ECHL and AHL, before moving to the SHL, Sweden’s top league, for the last two years. Tomkins performed admirably in the SHL, recording a .908 in 33 games in his first season in the league and a .911 in 32 games last year.
With teams like the Edmonton Oilers, and the injury-prone Carolina Hurricanes, currently facing questions about their goaltenders, there’s no guaranteeing that Tomkins will make it to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.