Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Tampa Bay Lightning are expected to trot out the same goaltending tandem from this season when they hit the ice next year.
The Lightning solidified their goalie depth on Friday morning with a tidy little piece of business, locking up veteran Brian Elliott to a one-year contract extension worth $900,000 that will run through the 2022-23 season.
Elliott, who arrived in Tampa Bay this past offseason on an identical deal, has appeared in 16 games for the Lightning thus far as the team's primary backup, compiling a 9-3-3 record with one shutout and an impressive save percentage of .921.
The 37-year-old has been the quintessential veteran backup to a team in the eye of its contention window, giving the Lightning quality goaltending on the nights that the club chooses to rest superstar Andrei Vasilevskiy.
On a roster that boasts one of the league's best netminders, the luxury of having an above-average understudy is incredibly valuable. And that's exactly what Elliott has been as a member of the Lightning, with an impressive 5.4 goals-saved-above-average among a number of stats illustrating his ability to hold the fort when needed.
Elliott's return next season also allows the Lightning more time for their stable of up-and-coming netminders to develop on the farm. Tampa Bay has three goalies under the age of 22 signed to entry-level contacts at the moment -- Alexi Melnichuk, Hugo Alnefelt, and Amir Miftakhov -- with neither option likely ready for a big-league promotion quite yet.
Now, they can round out the edges of their game away from the intense pressure of the NHL.
All in all, a nice little move for a team known for making them.