The Dallas Stars may have finally figured out their goaltending situation, or at least have a plan. The Stars aqcuired goaltender Ben Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) May 9, 2017
Bishop, 30, was traded to the Kings at the trade deadline this past season when the team was worried about starting goaltender Jonathan Quick’s health. With Quick looking healthy and ready to go, there was never a doubt Bishop would be on the move.
Bishop was a third round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues, but struggled to crack their goalie rotation. He was traded to the Ottawa Senators, where he would serve as a backup goalie to Craig Anderson. He had a strong showing as a backup, but once again with a goaltender blocking his path, he was traded again, this time to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he would define himself as one of the top goalies in the NHL.
Bishop spent three seasons starting for the Lightning, winning 35 or more games all three seasons, and posting one of the best goals against averages in the league all three seasons. He finished in the top three of Vezina voting for top goaltender twice in those three seasons. But after struggling to stay healthy this past season, his young backup Andrei Vasilevskiy shined in the starting role, making Bishop once again expendable.
A pending unrestricted free agent on July 1st, he joins Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen in a now very crowded and very expensive room. Niemi and Lehtonen, early in the season, split time as the starter, but with Niemi struggling, Lehtonen got the bulk of the starts.
In 52 starts, Lehtonen sported a less than stellar 2.85 goals against average to go along with a 22-25-7 record. Niemi was even worse, starting in 30 games and posting a 12-12-4 record, with a goals against average above 3, at 3.30. There was no doubt the Stars would look to address the position.
The Stars should have no issue signing Bishop, as according to John Shannon of Rogers Sportsnet’s Hockey Central, Bishop wanted to be in Dallas.
In discussions with Kings, Bishop made it clear he preferred certain teams. Told them he wanted to be in Dallas.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) May 9, 2017
The issues is that Niemi and Lehtonen already are the most expensive goaltender pairing in the NHL, with a combined cap hit of $10.4 million. Bishop is already one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and will be the top option on the free agent market if he reaches that point, so he is expected to be paid well this summer. Top goalies in the NHL generally make between $6-$8 million per season (New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is the highest paid goaltender in the NHL with a cap hit of $8.5 million), and Bishop will likely fall in this range.
It is likely the Stars will have to dump one, if not both of their goaltenders this offseason in order to fit Bishop under the salary cap. Goaltenders are a hot commodity in the league, and both of the stars goaltenders have shown they are capable, but with high salary cap hits and less than stellar play, general manager Jim Nill has his work cut out for him this summer.