The Calgary Flames need a goalie. Not only do they not have any signed for the 2016-17 season, but it’s probably fair to say their 2015-16 season ended up derailed in large part due to league-worst goaltending.
Jon Gillies isn’t going to step into the NHL immediately. While the Flames like him, he may never turn out at all. So they can’t simply wait for him, and it appears there isn’t much desire to find a stopgap option.
The Flames need goaltending. Now. And Brad Treliving is determined to come away with it this weekend.
And it sounds like Ben Bishop is his guy.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 23, 2016
Bishop is a 29-year-old netminder listed as 6’7 and 216 lbs. In short: he’s huge, and he’s not too old; he’ll turn 30 in November.
He also posted a .926 save percentage this past season, en route to helping the Tampa Bay Lightning go deep into the playoffs for the second season in a row, even though he was injured early in the third round. That .926 was a career high for him, but it wasn’t out of the blue: he posted a .924 save percentage for the Lightning in the 2013-14 season as well.
And Bishop has played a minimum of 61 games each of the past three seasons, so you know he can handle a starter’s workload.
In short, he’s a very good target for a team in desperate need of goaltending. He isn’t locked into a contract either: he has just one season remaining on his deal worth an annual average value of $5.95 million.
Bishop is one year away from free agency, and if his 2016-17 season is anything like his previous three, he’s going to be commanding a lot of money. Will the Flames be able to afford him when it’s time to re-sign him? There’s no way they can be targeting Bishop with any serious interest as a one-year rental.
We don’t know what the cap will be in 2017-18; we do know that this upcoming season, it’s $73 million, so it shouldn’t be too far off from that. And the Flames have almost all of their bad contracts coming off of the books following this season – Mason Raymond ($3.15 million), Brandon Bollig ($1.25 million), Dennis Wideman ($5.25 million), Ladislav Smid ($3.5 million), and Deryk Engelland ($2.917 million) – to free up a little over $16 million in cap space, with only Sam Bennett due to get a significant raise.
So in short: yes, the Flames should be able to afford re-signing Bishop. A nice advantage here is that his new contract would be on their own terms, not ones inherited like Marc-Andre Fleury.
What would Tampa Bay want back for Bishop? That’s less known – but they’d definitely want something for their starting netminder.
Andrei Vasilevskiy may be waiting in the wings, but the most he’s ever played is 24 games in a single NHL season. He has a lot of potential, but he isn’t yet a proven commodity; however, at just 21 years old, he certainly looks to be Tampa’s goalie of the future.
Frederik Andersen was traded for this year’s 30th overall pick, as well as a second rounder in 2017. The Flames’ sixth overall pick likely isn’t on the table, nor would be big names such as Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, or Dougie Hamilton.
But just because the Lightning have a future netminder already in place doesn’t mean they’re going to give up their – very good – current guy for nothing. The Flames have the 35th overall pick, as well as a small handful of pretty good prospects – your Hunter Shinkaruks, Rasmus Anderssons, Oliver Kylingtons – that could be trade chips.
Because remember, Bishop is an elite goalie. And he could be just the kick the Flames need to launch them into contention sooner rather than later. No gap year while waiting for bad contracts to die out: now, and thereafter.
But he has to cost something notable.
If the Flames are truly after Bishop, what would you be willing to part with in order to get him?