Dreger: ‘Ben Bishop is a primary target’ for the Flames

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.

On Bishop

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.

The contract

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.

The deal

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?

  • Derzie

    We are building a ‘core’ so anything in that core should not be available. My core is: our 6th pick, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, Michael Frolik, Mangiapane & Rasmus Andersson.

  • everton fc

    Bishop will mean one of our high-priced players may have to move, or how do we justify the cap hit? Moving young guys doesn’t soften our cap hit. Moving a price tag like Gio’s does, but the Bolts are trying to sign Stamkos, and need to shed cap space….

    “Just sayin’.” Unless you can package Bouma and Wideman, and a 2nd… But how does this help the Bolts cap wise?

    (Anyone think Columbus might move the #34 in a deal that had Hartnell coming the other way?)

  • freethe flames

    Tampa is in the win now mode. I doubt they give Bishop away and I would not want to overpay for a one year deal. A late second this year and a second next year if we resign him is what I think I said a few days ago.

  • Mr.Luv2Poop

    I favor signing Reimer. Don’t want to give up any of our most promising prosepects (Shinkaruks, Rasmus Anderssons, Oliver Kylingtons). If Reimer dosent workout, sign bishop or whoever else is a UFA next season. Need to keep our blue-chip prospects as we’re still rebuilding.

    • everton fc

      The Shinkaruk/Granlund trade will be deemed “robbery” in two years time. Or sooner. This kid wills core goals at the NHL level. I see him on the LW of the 2nd or 3rd line, in Calgary, this October.

      So why move him?

      Sign Reimer. Reimer will work out. If Gillies is for real (there’s no proof yet he is) you move Reimer or Ortio to make room.

      Signing Bishop is big bucks. I can’t see it.

      (Wideman for Bernier?! 😉 )

  • Backlund Best

    Any deal involving a goalie is contingent on knowing if Gillies is protected in an expansion draft or not. If we have to protect Gillies because he would be exposed, there is no sense in spending prime assets on any goalie and risking losing one. Just sign Reimer and Johnson/Enroth.

    That being said, if Gillies is exempt from the expansion draft (meaning we don’t need to protect him), Bishop is probably my preferred goalie to go after if we’re trading for a goalie, I’ve wanted the Flames to trade for him since he was part of the Blues Organization. He’s got good traditional stats, and digging into the advanced numbers, he still looks great.

  • StarkRaving

    I like Bishop, he’s a terrific goalie. But I don’t think he’s the right answer today.

    The Flames are still in rebuild mode. Why swing for the fences to get one year of service from a top-flight goalie when you know you won’t be a top ten team for another two or three years?

    Bishop is probably the best goalie available, but I would not mortgage the future for him.

  • KACaribou

    I’d go Reimer over Bishop, not because I think he is better but rather because I have no faith in the defensive abilities of the Flames. I would hate to get a guy like Bishop in a trade costing us a lot of talent and landing us with a large contract, only to find out his GAA climbs a goal and his save percentage drops to .910. That’s what happens to goalies who go from good teams to bad.

    With Reimer we may not gain as much, but we also don’t know that. Maybe on a Tampa team Reimer has the same .926 save percentage as Bishop. He was on Toronto after all, for most of his career.

    Reimer’s save percentage on the Leafs last year was a respectable .918, but after getting traded to the great Sharks team it ballooned to .938. Hasek wouldn’t have had a .938 save percentage with the Flames last season!

  • Stan

    Honestly, I imagine a deal for Bishop would look something like:

    #35 + top tier prospect (Kylington/Andersson/Shinkaruk) + second tier prospect (Pollock, Klimchuk, Kulak)

    Although I am generally awful at this. And I have no knowledge of what Tampa is looking for. Maybe they would be interested in Mr. Big & Local?

  • beloch
    1. The Flames should be aiming for the playoffs next season, but their championship contention “window” is still probably a couple years down the line.
    2. The Flames have some nice goalie prospects who may be ready a couple years from now.
    3. Bishop turns 30 in Nov., so he could regress significantly by the time the Flames’ “window” opens.
    4. Bishop has a big cap hit next season, and will likely expect a hefty new contract after next season.
    5. TB’s initial asking price was rumored to include Calgary’s 1st round pick, which is utterly ridiculous. However, how low are they prepared to go? Regardless of this summer’s buyer’s market for goalies, losing their starter is a big deal.
    6. Reimer can be signed without the Flames giving up any assets at all.

    All other things being equal, I’d take Bishop over Reimer next season. Bishop is a proven starter. Reimer has, to date, played a maximum of 40 games in a season. However, there’s likely to be a big price difference between these two goalies, and the Flames might have homegrown alternatives in a couple seasons. Is the added certainty that Bishop provides in net over Reimer for next season worth paying what TB is asking? It all depends on the deal.

    In Treliving we trust!

  • Kevin R

    Bishop for Hickey, 2016 3rd & a conditional 2017 2nd that becomes a 2017 1st if he resigns. Not as bad as you think. Look at what Dallas did for Russell on a similar conditional return. Bishop is worth boatloads more than Russell. With Bishop in net, I expect Flames pushing for playoffs. Im in.

    • mk

      I heard a rumour that the Bolts are asking for Brodie + 1st for Bishop + 1st, or Gillies + 1st for Bishop. Lol – don’t belivee every rumour that runs around the internet, even from “connected” media types.

      • Stu Cazz

        Make no mistake the Flames are targeting a top goalie and Bishop is considered one of the best. The price will no doubt be heavy and not much less than Flames 1st overall or a top prospect.

        I’m in the “sign Reimer” camp personally but Ben Bishop would guarantee playoffs and perhaps a deep run…that is what it’s all about…signing him long term is seperate issue that is an unknown factor much like bringing in Dougie Hamilton last year…

  • Dale Denton

    If they trade #6 for a goalie on the last year of his contract, I’ll be pissed.

    Maybe this is just letting bishop know that the flames are interested in him, like for his ufa years

  • freethe flames

    If BT pays any of these silly requests then he should be fired.

    Better to stay with Reimer, Johnson,or Enroth than pay these prices for Bishop. The same goes for the MAF requests.

    • cberg

      Any huge deal like that would require the second sober thought approval of BB, which is a good thing. I like Bishop, but re-signing him and the cost to obtain are critical issues, especially when you have a very good alternative waiting in the wings.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I don’t see how a trade for Bishop makes any sense for either team in 2016/17. Tampa is in win-now mode and the Flames don’t need to pay for a rental. Personally, I’d be angling for the Pens to pay to unload Fleury’s contract. If that does come to pass pick up Reimer for a 1 or 2 year conteact.

  • Flash

    I don’t think exposing Gillies to the expansion draft is that big a deal. LV only needs 2 goalies, and they’ll have goalies from every team to choose from.

    Is Gillies (with no NHL experience) going to rank ahead of other more experienced goalies that are available?

  • RKD

    I wouldn’t give up the sixth pick for Bishop, even if the Flames have a #1 bonafide starter like Bishop they are not in win now mode. They are still rebuilding, they have a lot of areas in their game to clean up. I don’t think they will be as bad as last season but also not as good as two seasons ago. Bishop is pretty durable, starting a minimum of 61 games in each of the past three seasons. He’s also put up at least 35 wins or more too but the team in front of him has been very good. He will be asking for a lot of money if he hits free agency and if he only plays a season then walks it will be all for not. While Reimer is one year younger than Bishop, he’s never played more than 40 games in a season. How would he handle 60-65 starts?