Photo courtesy of nesn.com
This coming season, Ben Bishop’s 2 year $2.98 million AAV deal with The Tampa Bay Lightning expires. This being the case, many speculate where Big Ben will be playing come the NHL’s trade deadline.
Ben Bishop has been the Lighting’s last line of defense for the past 3 years. Being moved from his draft team, The St. Louis Blues, and then from the Ottawa Senators, Bishop’s first true NHL starting role was with Tampa.
Reasons Why Bishop Will Move
Tampa Bay’s goalie depth has a big factor in the Bishop case. In the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, Tampa coach Jon Cooper made backup stopper Andrei Vasilevsky equal to Bishop, calling Ben and Andrei 1 and 1A.
22 year old Vasilevsky also just signed a 3 year $10.5 million dollar deal in July.
The upcoming expansion draft being held for the Las Vegas team also plays into this situation. The Lighting can only protect one goaltender in the draft. If the resign Bishop, who is one of the best in the business right now, that would leave the highly touted and young Vasilevsky exposed to the Las Vegas- whatever their called.
Signing Vasilevsky to the $10.5 million dollar deal has to be considered a team friendly deal. Vasilevsky is one of the best looking young goalies on the market, and the amount that Tampa Bay relies on him can be seen. $10.5 million is a steal for this guy.
29 year old Ben Bishop is still relatively young in goalie years, but is entering the stage in his career where he’s looking for a long term big money contract. Tampa Bay can’t really offer either If the team wants to keep their core.
Coming up the ranks and looking for contracts like the one Bishop would want are names like Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, and Nikita Kucherov. My maths teacher in junior high could tell you that it is next to impossible to keep all these players while also footing the bill of Mr. Steven Stamkos.
Reasons Why Bishop Won’t Move
Ben Bishop boasted a league best 2.06 GAA last year, all while compiling a very impressive 35-21-4 record. Bishop was also the runner up in the Save % category tallying a personal best .930. Bishop has proven in the last three years that he is an elite goalie in the NHL- his statistics prove that.
2 years ago, if you had a goalie like Ben Bishop coming out of a contract, teams would be all over him. Looking across the league, a lot of teams now seem to have a bonafide starter, or a goalie that they are investing in. In today’s market, Tampa Bay would not be getting full return for a number one goalie.
Cup Run 2017
Having a goaltending tandem of Bishop and Vasilevsky along with the forward core that Tampa possesses makes the Lightning a true contender. If they keep Bishop AT LEAST until the end of the year, they are getting two goalies that were two games away from hoisting the hardware last season. Obviously, keeping Bishop until the end of the year brings in the risk of losing him in free agency for no return. But hey, they did it successfully with Stamkos…
Possible Landing Spots
If Ben Bishop were to be traded, there is a few teams that would possibly be enticed to make a move.
It could be guessed upon, by looking at their depth charts, that the Lightning would value defensemen over forwards.
After Mike Smith, the Arizona Coyotes are very shallow when it comes to the blue paint. Making a move for Ben Bishop would make sense, as a declining Mike Smith continues to eat up cap space and roster space on an increasingly young team.
Possible Returns: Anthony Duclair, Tobias Rieder, Radim Vrbata
The Edmonton Oilers make my list due to the uncertainty that still pertains to their goaltending situation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big of a fan of Cam Talbot as the next guy, but the first half of the season will either permanentize his starting role, or will end it. If Talbot has a lacklustre first half of the season, don’t be shocked if PC makes a push for Bishop at the deadline. Could also result in a larger package deal for Tampa to dump some cap.
Possible Returns: Griffin Reinhart, Jordan Oesterle
New York Islanders
An unlikely move, but definitely not impossible. After Jaroslav Halak, the Islanders have the services of the unproven experiment Thomas Griess. The Islanders seem pretty high on the duo, but if the two have a rough start, Bishop could be in the conversation.
Possible Returns: Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy
still relatively young, but inconsistent and disappointing Ondrej Pavelec and a… Well… a goalie in Michael Hutchinson makes the Jets weak on the backside. If the Jets would look straight at their issues, they would make a generous push for Ben Bishop.
Possible Returns: Jacob Trouba, Ondrej Pavelec, Mark Stuart, Michael Hutchinson
St. Louis Blues
The Calgary Flames were front runners in trading for Bishop on draft day. The deal went cold, so the Flames went out and brought in former blues goalie Brian Elliot. Thus, leaving a planet sized whole for the Blues in between the pipes. My first guess is that if young Jake Allen doesn’t play the way the Blues seem to expect him to, they WILL be front runners in snagging their own draftee Ben Bishop.
Possible Returns: David Perron, Carter Hutton, Petteri Lindbohm