Trades are tough to make in this salary cap age, especially if you want some value back (and especially with the expansion draft ramping up the uncertainty). Add in the obvious fact that everyone knows the Tampa Bay Lightning want to get rid of Ben Bishop, and the degree of difficulty goes sky high, even for a wizard like GM Steve Yzerman.
OK, “get rid of,” might be a little harsh … it really comes down to the fact that Andrei Vasilevskiy is “the guy” in Tampa Bay, so Bishop is the odd man out.
So, yeah, it’s tough sledding, especially if the Bolts haven’t punted on 2016-17 altogether.
“And we’re trying to win,” Yzerman told the Lightning Morning Skate Show, by way of NHL.com. “If I could do something that helped our team make a trade that identified a need for us — not just for this year, but going forward — I would do that, and haven’t been able to do that to this point, and that’s been going on, really, since the [NHL Draft] last year.”
Things probably have only gotten more difficult for Yzerman with the kind of year Bishop’s endured, at least based on what Yzerman said about offers and what Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman adds in “30 Thoughts.”
It’s a worthwhile gamble for someone needing a jolt without taking on a firm commitment. Word is current offers are low and Yzerman isn’t biting. His risk is seeing a rejuvenated Bishop deliver high reward somewhere else.
That last part might be where Stevie Y needs to swallow his pride.
Look, perception matters for executives; just look at how the discussion is often framed around the Florida Panthers’ disappointing season versus the Lightning’s stumbles as a single example. Few are really burying the Bolts in a bigger picture viewpoint, while others wonder if the Panthers’ ship is sinking.
That said, we’ve seen some downsides to Yzerman & Co. worrying too much about what other people think.
Saving face vs. saving cap space
Take the instance of Ryan Callahan.
Yzerman deserves credit for getting a nice haul for Martin St. Louis, considering that everyone knew they needed to part ways and St. Louis demanded a move to the New York Rangers. Still, a cap crunch was easy to see coming, so handing a risky contract to keep Callahan – aka the biggest name in the St. Louis trade, even if the assets were nice – might have been in part to save face.
That deal … uh, hasn’t worked out so well for the Lightning.
The Lightning need to at least consider the possibility that this is a lost season, and part ways with guys who are more “electrons” than “nucleus.” If Bishop isn’t a core member – and it certainly seems like he isn’t – Tampa Bay’s probably better off getting something for him.
Much like the 2016-17 season, the Lightning might just have to accept a letdown here.