The Tampa Bay Lightning answered one of their biggest lingering questions on Saturday, signing goalie Ben Bishop to a two-year contract extension. The financial details haven’t been made official, but ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that it’s worth $11.9 million overall (or $5.95 million per season).
In other words, it’s a lot like the contract Sergei Bobrovsky received from Columbus after he won the 2013 Vezina Trophy. Bishop gets paid as an essentially elite goalie, yet that limited term also means he needs to “prove it” to gain greater security.
The 27-year-old netminder has one year remaining on a deal that carries a $2.3 million cap hit, so this extension keeps the large goalie under contract through the 2016-17 campaign.
Bishop enjoyed a breakthrough 2013-14 season, generating a sterling 37-14-7 record while notching a strong .924 save percentage to go with five shutouts. His injury-related absence was glaring during the 2014 postseason; Anders Lindback struggled mightily as the Montreal Canadiens dispatched the Bolts in four games.
Even so, Bishop’s resume is pretty skinny; the American goalie only has 108 games of NHL experience and never played in more than 22 games before the 2013-14 campaign.
This gives the Lightning plenty of time to evaluate their goaltending situation, which could get quite interesting if 2012 first-rounder (19th overall) Andrei Vasilevskiy ends up justifying the hype. Tampa Bay invested in experienced backup Evgeni Nabokov during this offseason, yet the big-picture No. 1 battle is expected to eventually come down to Bishop vs. Vasilevskiy (with apologies to Kristers Gudlevskis).
By agreeing to this “bridge deal,” the Lightning won’t need to rush such a decision, even if they’re paying a premium in the short term.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
From the NHL:
Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.
Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.
Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse
Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.
The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.
Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.
The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.
McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.
Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.
Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”
A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.
“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”
Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.
Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.
Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA