Lightning Ship Bishop to the Kings
The Tampa Bay Lightning traded goaltender Ben Bishop and a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for goalie Peter Budaj, defenseman Erik Cernak, a seventh-round pick in 2017 and a conditional 2017 pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos last night reported the Kings were looking at Bishop or Vancouver’s Ryan Miller as a possible backup for returning starter Jonathan Quick. Despite the solid play of Budaj filling in for Quick dating back to October, the Kings obviously felt they needed a potential starter with playoff experience in case Quick is sidelined again or struggles over the remainder of this season.
Bishop, 30, has had injury issues of his own over the last couple of years, but he’s also only a year removed from being a Vezina Trophy finalist. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and obviously a rental player for the Kings. After struggling earlier this season through injury and inconsistency (the latter likely due to uncertainty over his future), Bishop has shown signs of returning to his once-stellar form over the last couple of weeks.
With a healthy Quick and Bishop, the Kings have a solid tandem to share the duties over the remainder of the season. However, this move fails to address the their anemic offense. With a 2.44 goals-for per game as of Feb. 26, they are among the league’s lowest-scoring clubs. If they don’t find a way to address that problem, having an all-star goalie tandem won’t help them reach the playoffs.
Budaj has played well this season and should continue to do so with the Bolts, but he’ll be backing up Andrei Vasilevskiy, who’s now their full-time starter. Like Bishop, Budaj’s a UFA this summer. If he plays well over the rest of the season, perhaps the Lightning will bring him back as Vasilevskiy’s backup.
The Lightning are in need of blueline depth. Cernak, 19, won’t be an immediate answer as he’s currently playing for the OHL’s Erie Otters. The 6’3″, 203-pounder defenseman apparently has the potential to be a shutdown blueliner. Perhaps he can fill that role for the Bolts down the road.
This move should leave no doubt that Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is in sell mode and probably has other moves in store leading up to deadline day. Center and pending UFA Brian Boyle could also be dealt by the deadline and restricted free agent Tyler Johnson has also popped up in recent trade speculation.