Muscat: Prospect Profile – Kristers Gudlevskis

by Alex Muscat | Posted on Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
Kristers Gudlevskis

Kristers Gudlevskis

Even though Canada barely got past Latvia in the Sochi Olympic quarterfinal match-up, Lightning goalie prospect Kristers Gudlevskis continued to make a name for himself. (Photos/Susan Ferlita)

Gudlevskis steered aside a tournament-record 55 shots and was named the Player of the Game, despite being on the losing end of a 2-1 tooth-and-nail match-up against the Canadians. At the other end of the rink, his counterpart, Carey Price, stopped only 15 shots. Shea Weber netted the deciding goal late in the game, moments after Gudlevskis was attended to by the Latvian trainers for what was thought to be dehydration. If Gudlevskis had backstopped his team to a victory over Canada, it would have been the Latvian “Miracle on Ice” and one of the biggest upsets in Olympic hockey history.

Gudlevskis, a 21-year old netminder from Aizkraukle, Latvia who is listed at 6’3″, 189 lbs., was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the fifth round (124th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft. Besides former NHL goalie Arturs Irbe, Gudlevskis is the only Latvian-born goaltender to be drafted by an NHL team. He was selected 72 spots before Irbe was in 1989.

Before coming to North America, Gudlevskis protected the cage for HK Riga, a Minor Hockey League affiliate of Dinamo Riga of the Kontinental Hockey League. He posted a 27-18-11 record with a 2.09 goals against average, a .927 save percentage and notched three shutouts. He did show what he could do at the KHL level as he played in two games with Dinamo Riga and went 1-1 with a 2.18 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. It was good enough for GM Steve Yzerman and the Lightning front office to take him in the fifth round. After Dinamo Riga agreed to terminate the final year of Gudlevskis’ KHL contract, he signed his first NHL contract by inking a three-year entry level deal with the Lightning.

So far, Gudlevskis has adjusted well to the North American-game. After attending

Kristers Gudlevskis

Kristers Gudlevskis

training camp, Gudlevskis was assigned to the Bolts’ affiliate in the ECHL, the Florida Everblades, where he posted a 7-4-0 record with a 1.83 goals against average and a .925 save percentage in 11 games. In the middle of his stint in Estero, he was sent to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, where he earned a shutout in his AHL debut. After Riku Helenius returned from injury, Gudlevskis was sent back to the Everblades.

He didn’t have much to prove in the ECHL. Gudlevskis’ move to Syracuse was made permanent and in a total of 22 games with the Crunch, he has an 11-8-2 record with a 2.69 goals against average, a .900 save percentage and four shutouts. With injuries to Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback, Gudlevskis was brought in on an emergency basis to the Lightning, but has yet to make his NHL debut..

He has shown that his work ethic matches his athleticism and he is displaying that against some of world’s best players. His stock has definitely risen. Even though Bishop and Lindback are protecting the net for the Lightning, it won’t be long before Kristers Gudlevskis will get a call to Tampa Bay and will lock up a roster spot. 

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Alex Muscat
About the Author

Alex Muscat covers the Ontario Hockey League for http://www.juniorhockey.com . Alex has a deep-rooted love for the game of hockey. With Lightning Shout, he will be following tomorrow's Lightning players today as he cover the team's top prospects.

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  1. BigKahuna BigKahuna says:

    Great info. With Bishop, Vasi and Gudlevskis, the Bolts goalie depth is great!

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