Ben Bishop deal to Dallas a good fit for both
After a year of uncertainty, former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop might have finally found a long-term home.
And it feels like a good fit.
Bishop's rights were traded from the Kings to the Stars Tuesday for a fourth-round pick. Bishop, 30, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent July 1. But if Bishop can work out a long-term deal beforehand, he might have some desired stability before any free agency frenzy begins (and a planned summer wedding).
"I don't want to get ahead of myself, because I know we have the negotiating process to go through, but I'm excited," Bishop told the Dallas Morning News. "I know the area down there, I graduated from Frisco High School, and I know how passionate the fans are there. I was just really excited to hear the news."
The Stars needed an upgrade at goalie after ranking 29th in goals against average (3.17) and 30th in save percentage (.893). They have two veteran goalies under contract next year - Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi - and now will likely expose both in the June expansion draft (as long as Bishop can be signed). If neither are taken, Dallas could look to buy Niemi out.
For a good part of last season, Dallas was speculated as a potential landing spot for Bishop. The problem was likely Dallas finding a taker for the contract of one of its other veteran goalies in return. Bishop was traded to the Kings at the Mar 1 trade deadline, but played in just seven games, splitting time with No. 1 Jonathan Quick.
Bishop has admitted the trade rumors and uncertainty impacted him last season with Tampa Bay, going 16-12 with a 2.55 goals against average. After nearly getting dealt to Calgary at the June NHL Draft, believing it was "close," he was waiting for that call to happen all season. Plus, future No. 1 Andrei Vasilevskiy, Bishop's successor, was getting more playing time.
Now Bishop gets to be the no-doubt No. 1 again, and we've seen how good he can be in that role, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist with the Lightning. Plus it sounds like Dallas was a preferred spot. He played there in high school for the Texas Tornado and graduated from Frisco High. He visited friends the area with fiancee Andrea during this season; the couple is scheduled to get married this summer.
And Dallas, despite underachieving and missing the playoffs this season, has plenty of talent to bounce back next year. Former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock, who used to coach Bishop's hometown St. Louis Blues, got re-hired this offseason.
"Like I said, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but this looks a lot like the team we had in Tampa when I first got there," Bishop told the Morning News. "There is plenty of firepower to score goals, and the opportunity is there to work on the other areas and improve those areas."
Good for Bishop, who was a true pro in Tampa Bay, and always a pleasure to deal with. He's also one of the growing smaller group of goalies who are available to the media on the days they start.When Bishop was dealt to the Kings in late February, he told the Tampa Bay Times how much he wanted to thank the fans here.
Now Bishop still has to agree to a deal with Dallas, and as of Tuesday night, talks hadn't begun. But, from the sounds of it, it's a union both parties are very interested in.