Lightning hand Bishop a two-year, $11.9M extension


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.

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

1 Comment

There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.