Ben Bishop’s name has been on the rumor mill for quite some time now. With backup goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy recieving more and more opportunities to play, as well as the upcoming expansion draft in June, it seemed likely the Tampa Bay Lightning would move him to a contending team looking for goaltending as the trade deadline approaches.
They did trade him, but to an unlikely destination.
On Sunday night, the Lighting sent Bishop and a 2017 fifth round pick to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for goaltender Peter Budaj, defenseman Erik Cernak, and a seventh round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
The trade, at first, shocked the NHL. The Kings just activated Jonathan Quick, one of the best goaltenders in the league, from the injured reserve after he missed over 50 games due to a groin injury. But the Kings seem to have questions on whether Quick can stay healthy over the stretch, and general manager Dean Lombardi does not want to take any chances.
Lombardi’s comments on the trade via the Los Angeles Times:
“Every game down the stretch is critical. There’s not a lot of room here for error. We want to take that out of the equation by making sure we have a No. 1 goalie in there every night.This, we felt, was going to give us the best chance to get in [the playoffs].”
While the return seems underwhelming for the former Vezina Trophy finalist, the Lightning were most likely going to lose one of their goaltenders, and opted to go with the younger option, Vasilevskiy (22), than the 30 year old Bishop, who is also a pending free agent.
With Tampa Bay only 7 points out of the playoffs, they still have an opportunity to make a playoff push, and will rely on Vasilevskiy and Budaj to carry them there. Neither have had remarkable seasons and one will need to step up if the Lightning want to make the playoffs.
For the Kings, they sit just three points out of the second wild card spot. Goaltending has not been a problem, however, so while Bishop and Quick form one of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL, their offense is where improvement is needed. Lombardi commented on that as well.
“You’re not going to get an [Artemi] Panarin or a [Patrick] Kane or [Alex] Ovechkin or anything else that’s going to completely revamp your offense right now. The answer … has to come from within.”