The Dallas Stars officially have a new goaltender. Ben Bishop and the Stars have agreed to a six-year contract for $29.5 million. The average cap hit is a very manageable $4,916,667. The 30-year-old is here for the long haul.
Jim Nill is happy:
"As I stated previously, Ben is an elite goaltender in this League and we're thrilled to be adding him to our mix," he said. "Ben's commitment to what we are building in Dallas, and his passion for wanting to be a part of it, was evident during the negotiating process. We are excited to have him under contract for the next six seasons."
Bishop has proven to be a quality goalie in this league and should help the Stars if he stays healthy. He isn’t going to come in and carry this team like a Carey Price, but he gives a consistently quality effort. His numbers dipped a bit last season due to injury and questionable penalty-killing in front of him, but an improved penalty kill under Ken Hitchcock should aid those results.
This cap hit is surprisingly low, considering rumored numbers that people were throwing out there. Some thought out there was that this could go as high as $7 million per year with a discount to Texas for the lack of a state income tax. This cap hit is a million dollars less than Kari Lehtonen. Bishop will have the 18th-highest cap hit of any goalie in the league. The money is almost inconsequential. He’s basically making Antti Niemi money.
Speaking of those guys, the expectation is that Niemi will be bought out when the buyout window opens. Right now it seems like Lehtonen is staying put, but if the Stars can find a quality backup he may not.
The number of years guaranteed to Bishop is causing a bit of a stir today. Six years is a long-term commitment. Goalies can generally be found, but the Stars have had a lot of trouble nailing down quality net minding in recent years. The thought here is that the Stars have a guy they think can count on so hey, why not lock him up?
When you look closer at the details of the contract, you can see that the Stars safeguarded themselves in case Bishop does fall off of a cliff. The contract is structured so that if Bishop performs poorly the Stars can easily buy him out without taking too much of a hit.
Bishop’s salaries deescalate quickly. In year one he’ll pull in $7,000,000. In years four through six Bishop will be making $3,500,000. In the first three years he has a full no movement clause. Over those final three years it becomes a modified no movement clause. Those last three years aren’t insignificant, but they can easily be moved if necessary. Poor teams who need to hit the salary floor but don’t want to pay actual money would line up to take that contract unless he completely craters.
Stars GM Jim Nill on Ben Bishop's six-year, $29.5 million contract: pic.twitter.com/nFYizNpA8v— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) May 12, 2017
If he does crater, the low cash payments make a buyout more palatable. Teams pay 2/3 of the remaining money owed, not cap hit, over twice the number of years for a buyout. If he craters and the Stars need to buy him out, they’ll end up having him for $1,750,000 against the cap for six (gulp), four (yuck), or two (eh) years. Ideally that won’t happen, but the Stars have some protection built in here in the case it does.
I can in no way guarantee this will work out, but I am confident this is a good first step to fixing what ails the Stars in the short term. They have to try to win now while they can before they need to reconstitute the roster after Tyler Seguin gets paid. I think Bishop helps to that end. If this is all the Stars do this offseason, I’ll have less confidence in the plan, but if this is the first volley of several moves that get this roster back to respectability then I think they are headed in the right direction.