The Dallas Stars announced Tuesday they made a trade for goalie Ben Bishop’s negotiating rights, and this is a good move.
Two years ago the 6-foot 7-inch goalie helped lead Tampa Bay to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, where the Lightning lost to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Tampa Bay decided to go with a young and cheaper goaltender and sent Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings last season. With Jonathan Quick in the fold and returning from injury the Kings were never planning to bring Bishop back, so the Stars traded a fourth round draft pick for him. Bishop, 30, split the regular season between the Lightning and Kings, finishing 18-15-5 with a .910 save percentage. His career NHL save percentage is .919.
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He’s better than Antti Niemi, who is in the second of a three-year, $13.5 million deal – one that carries a $4.5 million cap hit. Per CapFriendly, a buyout would cost Dallas $1.5 million against the cap through 2019. The 33-year-old posted an 11-11-4 record with a 3.35 GAA and .892 save percentage, and that came after a fairly mediocre first year in Dallas. Though he won 25 games and appeared in five playoff contests, Niemi never posted a save percentage above .905.
He’s toast in Dallas.
I could see the Stars hoping the new club in Las Vegas takes Kari Lehtonen in the expansion draft. He’s on the books for $5.9 million. I don’t see that going down. Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News has his take on how the goaltending situation will shake out.
Bishop told the DMN, "I don't want to get ahead of myself, because I know we have the negotiating process to go through, but I'm excited."
He's a Colorado native who played for the Texas Tornado in 2004-05.
"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," he said.
General Manager Jim Nill’s biggest failure last year as the Stars missed the playoffs was not fixing the goaltending situation. I spoke to a NHL source who says Bishop is a top-eight goalie in the game. After finishing the season dead last in save percentage Nill had to give new head coach Ken Hitchcock a better guy in the pipes.
Now the hard part is getting Bishop inked to a deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.