Latest on the Lightning and Stars Goaltending – August 30, 2016
Ben Bishop’s uncertain future with the Tampa Bay Lightning and more speculation on the state of the Dallas Stars goaltending.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford reports Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop’s status next summer as an unrestricted free agent leaves him with an uncertain future in Tampa Bay. Bishop was the Bolts’ MVP last season and a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. With a cap hit of $5.9 million and promising Andrei Vasilevskiy ready to become a starter, this could be Bishop’s final season with the Lightning.
While Bishop was linked to the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars in offseason trade rumors, Halford speculates the Lightning’s preferred move could be letting the big goalie’s contract play out. With the Lightning a Stanley Cup contender, retaining Bishop this season gives them a better chance of winning. Halford also points out clubs such as the Flames and Stars could prefer pursuing Bishop via free agency, rather than trading for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Lightning intended to trade Bishop this summer, they would’ve done so by now. Yes, they’ll need to free up some salary-cap space when they re-sign Nikita Kucherov, but I think they’ll consider other options. As Halford points out, the Bolts chances of winning the Cup this season are better with Bishop sharing the duties with Vasilevskiy. Maybe that changes over the course of the season. For now, keeping that tandem intact seems the best bet.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent live chat with his readers, Mike Heika said he believes the Stars will start the upcoming season with their goalie tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. However, he doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Stars bringing in a new goalie before the 2016 playoffs. Noting that teams can only protect one goaltender in next June’s expansion draft, Heika speculates that “could cause teams to consider trades they normally wouldn’t, especially after January.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good point from Heika about how the expansion draft could affect the trade market in the final weeks leading up to the Feb. 28 trade deadline. Maybe by that point, a goalie like Ben Bishop becomes available for the Stars.