Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he first will try the trade route

The Lightning, leading up to free agency, will look to trade for a No. 1 goaltender, general manager Steve Yzerman said.

“My preference,” Yzerman said Thursday night, “is to go with a little bit younger guy that maybe has a little less experience that can step up and play well for us now.”

As an example he mentioned Semyon Varlamov, 24, whom the Avalanche acquired last summer from the Capitals for a first- and second-round draft pick and who had a respectable 2.59 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in 53 games.

“And if we can’t do anything in that way, we look forward to July 1,” Yzerman said of the start of unrestricted free agency.

That equation is significant because it seems to exclude Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.

There has been much speculation Tampa Bay is the natural landing spot for Luongo, who during the playoffs lost his starting job to Cory Schneider and then indicated he would be open to a trade. As detailed here several times, the problem with Luongo, as far as the Lightning is concerned, is his contract. The 33-year-old goalie has 10 years left on a deal that pays $6.714 million for the next six years, or until Luongo is 39.

Owner Jeff Vinik has deep pockets, but even that seems too much to risk on an aging player.