After announcing they’d signed Ben Bishop to a $29.5 million deal, the Stars faced some questions about the term they handed out:
It’s a pretty lengthy contract for a guy that turns 31 this fall, and has dealt with his fair share of injury problems. But according to Bishop, there are no lingering health issues at play.
“I think I’m right up there in games played over the last four years,” he said during Friday’s conference call. “I feel great and I don’t think it’s an issue more than it is with any other goalie out there.”
On the surface, Bishop has a point. He’s played 225 games over that time frame, seventh-most among NHL goalies.
But there are a few asterisks.
Bishop’s most significant injures have derailed him during the playoffs, not the regular season. In 2014, he suffered a dislocated elbow late in the year and missed the Lightning’s entire opening-round series against Montreal. During the ’15 Cup Final, he tore his groin and missed Game 4.
In 2016, he was stretchered off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final with an ankle/shin injury, and missed the remainder of the series.
(This year, he missed nearly a month of the regular season with a lower-body ailment.)
There is a chance Bishop won’t be a bell-cow, heavy workload ‘tender in Dallas. Currently, the club has three goalies under contract, though it’s expected one of Antti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen will be cut loose (and rumblings suggest Niemi will be the one to go).
If Lehtonen sticks, he’ll probably still see some significant playing time. He started 52 times last year and led all goalies in games played in ’13-14, with 65.
What’s more, Lehtonen and Bishop know each other well, which could be vital in maintaining a goalie tandem.
“He’s a great guy and I really enjoy spending time with him,” Bishop said. “He was one of the first people to contact me when the trade was made.”