Matt Larkin of The Hockey News tweeted that he had spoken to Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill about his goalie situation.
This is significant for Tampa Bay Lightning fans as it would suggest that General Manager Steve Yzerman is probably not working on a trade of Ben Bishop to Dallas at this time. And it also means that Yzerman is unlikely to be working on any trade of Bishop either.
Let’s break down the other 29 teams in the NHL’s goalie situations to see if there is any other place that Ben Bishop makes sense.
Already have a good goalie
The first category is the easy one to tick off. Look for teams that already have a pretty good goalie option in net. These teams are probably already at least Playoff contenders, if not Stanley Cup contenders with the goalies they already have. While Bishop may be a better goaltender than some of the goalies on the teams listed, the upgrade likely isn’t enough for these teams to spend the assets required to obtain Bishop.
Those teams: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals
Not a Playoff Contender
The first category is teams that aren’t playoff contenders. With Bishop only having one year remaining on his current contract before he hits unrestricted free agent, it’s unlikely that teams that aren’t already playoff contenders would be interested in him. If you’re not a playoff contender, you almost certainly have more holes in your roster than just a goaltender.
Those teams: Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets
In Between Teams
The next category is teams that are kind of in between. Maybe they’re playoff contenders but are they Cup contenders? Does adding Bishop make them a Cup contender? Do they have the space? Do they have a goalie that might be able to lead them into the playoffs? This gets a little bit harder to judge from a distance on many of these teams.
Take the Avalanche for example. They have Semyon Varlamov who has been a good goaltender in the past, but they’re a fringe playoff team. Or Edmonton who I think will be at least in the Wild Card hunt, but they’ve got Cam Talbot that they’ve already invested in. Or the Blues who made a decision to go with Jake Allen over Brian Elliott. And I think that’s really what this group of teams come down to. They’ve got a goalie that they’re invested in already and likely will run with what they have.
Those teams: Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues
The Left Overs
That really just has left me with two teams… the Dallas Stars and the Ottawa Senators.
The Ottawa Senators could use an upgrade in net. Craig Anderson is getting older at 35 years old and while he’s been a solid starting NHL goalie, he’s never been a top-end starter. Andrew Hammond is younger at 28 years old, but 51 NHL games in his career and is far from being a proven commodity over a long span. The biggest thing keeping Ottawa out of the race is their internal budget. They simply wouldn’t have the money to be able to bring in Bishop. They’ve also got some holes in their roster. While Bishop would likely turn the Senators into a playoff team, he wouldn’t turn them into a Stanley Cup contender.
Getting a deal done with Dallas almost certainly would mean taking back Antii Niemi in a trade where Dallas retains some salary and Niemi would serve as a back up to Vasilevskiy. Taking the player and some of the salary back would up the price for acquiring Bishop, but Nill would likely have to pay someone else anyways to take Niemi. With Nill establishing to Larkin that the Stars are quiet on the trade front, that is taking Dallas out of the discussion.
And so with it, the only real landing good landing spot for a trade of Ben Bishop leaving Steve Yzerman looking at other options to shed some salary to finish his offseason work.