The Dallas Stars took the first step toward shaking up their situation in the crease on Tuesday and traded for pending free agent Ben Bishop.
Dallas sent a fourth-round pick back to the Los Angeles Kings and the Stars will have exclusive negotiating rights with Bishop through July 1, when he’ll become an unrestricted free agent if un-signed.
Bishop spent time with the Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2016-17 regular season, posting an 18-15-5 record with a .910 save percentage and 2.54 goal against average in 39 games played.
He has a 148-80-25 record in 270 career games played. In that time, he has a .919 save percentage, a 2.32 goals against average and 19 shutouts. Twice he has finished in the top three in Vezina Trophy voting, finishing second in 2015-16 and third in 2013-14.
Bishop is coming off a two-year, $11.9 million contract he signed with Tampa Bay before the 2015-16 season. He was traded to the Kings along with a fifth-round pick in February for goalie Peter Budaj, defenseman Erik Cernak, a seventh-round draft pick, and a conditional draft pick.
The fourth-round pick is the one the Stars acquired along with Greg Pateryn from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Jordie Benn. So the Stars are in a way playing with house money on this deal, but it could be wasted house money if Dallas doesn’t sign the 30-year-old goalie.
So now the question becomes how much does Bishop want and how much are the Stars willing to pay?
Bishop’s soon-to-expire contract came with a $5.95-million cap hit and he’s likely going to want a similar salary on his next deal. Bishop may have looked for maximum value -- potentially $49 million over seven years -- on the open market, but could potentially take closer to $6 million per season with zero income tax in Texas.
The Stars and Bishop's camp have apparently already been in discussions about a potential deal, but haven't discussed exact terms.
Stars and Bishop's representation have already had discussions about potential deals.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) May 9, 2017
Either way if the Stars sign Bishop they are once again paying a 30-plus goalie an incredible amount of money, and that didn’t work very well last with Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi.
Yes, Bishop will certainly be an upgrade over Niemi (who has likely played his final NHL game and will be bought out) but behind the Stars current defense he’d play at a similar level to Lehtonen and if anything it would only be a minor upgrade.
So to make this deal work the Stars not only have to sign Bishop, but they also have to get better defensively and that’s going to be a two-pronged effort between management and a supposedly stricter defensive system under Ken Hitchcock.