Erlendsson points to these comments made by Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, with the last sentence likely being most pertinent:
“I think we’re in a fantastic position,” Yzerman said. “We have two outstanding goaltenders, based on what we’ve seen from Andrei both last year and this year and in particular, him coming in in the Pittsburgh series, I think we have a brilliant young goaltender and a proven, I don’t even want to call Bish a veteran because he’s still relatively young in terms of years played and games played, but we’ve got two outstanding goaltenders. I know that at some point, when that is, we may for expansion or cap reasons, have to make a decision.”
Yes, at some point Yzerman would be forced to make a decision. Assuming an extension doesn’t come early, both Bishop’s $5.95 million cap hit and Vasilevskiy’s rookie deal ($925K cap hit) will expire after 2016-17.
One would think that this would be the fork in the road moment … but what if Yzerman decides to be proactive and trade Bishop now?
Still, this is expected to be an expensive offseason, whether it’s literal (locking all or more of those big pieces) or more figurative (possibly losing franchise player Stamkos). As great as Bishop has been, his near-$6 million could go toward locking down those pieces, especially if management already expects Vasilevskiy to be The Guy.
Granted, the Lightning have seen firsthand how crucial it can be to have two starting-quality goalies (at least for however long you can hold onto them).
Quite a conundrum, right?
If nothing else, it’s a point to consider, even while acknowledging Bishop’s strong work.
More on the Lightning off-season
Steven Stamkos on the situation
The Bolts want to bring back Jonathan Drouin