With the trade deadline quickly approaching, we will be profiling several players in the weeks ahead that are likely to be dealt by March 1st.
Ben Bishop’s name was at the top of everyone’s “most likely to be traded” list to start the season. And with the trade deadline nearing, talk has only intensified as Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman contemplates a move. Bishop is another goaltending victim of circumstance on a team with expansion draft exposure concerns and upcoming RFA deals. A pending free agent goaltender used to be a hot commodity for teams looking to make a playoff push, but with more and more teams limited by the salary cap, veteran goalies have lost significant trade value
Bishop is in his final year of his 2-year, $5.95MM a year contract. It’s the 10th highest cap hit for an NHL goaltender.
Bishop is not having the greatest 2016-17 season. Tampa Bay platoons its goalies, so Bishop shares time with Andrei Vasilevskiy. But even the reduced workload hasn’t helped increase the worst numbers Bishop has earned since playing backup for the St. Louis Blues in 2010-11. Part of the problem is that the team itself has been disappointing. The Lightning were a popular choice to lead the Atlantic this year, and right now they find themselves outside of a playoff spot. Lacking playoff hopes, however, bodes well for Bishop as the Lightning would be less hesitant to trade him knowing they do not need him for the playoffs.
27 GP, 11-12-3, .904 SV%, 2.83 GAA, 0 SO.
Fringe playoff teams or teams beset by goaltending injuries. The former exist, and the latter do not—for now. Most of the established playoff teams are set in net, but a season-ending injury to a starting goalie could do wonders for Ben Bishop’s trade market. Barring injury, though, Tampa has to look to those teams on the brink of playoffs and with little to offer in goal.
The Winnipeg Jets may want somebody more reliable that Connor Hellebuyck and Ondrej Pavelec. Hellebucyk is an RFA after this season, and Pavelec a UFA. The Jets also have ample cap room to work with. St. Louis could also show interest if starter Jake Allen continues his substandard season. The Blues will find it harder to fit Bishop in under the cap, so Tampa may have to either retain some salary or take a contract in return.
Likelihood Of A Trade
Very likely. The writing was on the wall on July 1, 2016 when the Lightning signed Vasilevskiy to a three-year, $3.5MM a year extension. That a trade hasn’t happened yet is the surprising part. Either the market is stagnant or GM Steve Yzerman is waiting for the deadline to maximize his return. With the Lightning potentially missing the playoffs, the team has no reason to keep Bishop beyond the trade deadline.