If you’re asking “wait, how did we get to this point?” — allow PHT to explain.
Tuesday morning, a reporter from Tampa’s Fox13 tweeted this:
Nobody was sure what these reports were or where to find them, but hockey insider Bob McKenzie had a theory.
From his appearance on TSN 1040, by way of Today’s Slapshot:
“Somebody asked me about what will Calgary do now that they didn’t get Freddie Andersen, they were after Freddie Andersen from Anaheim. The Leafs got him and signed him. What’s their next move. And I said obviously they need a goaltender. They have talked, or they will talk, to the Tampa Bay Lightning about Ben Bishop. That was it. That’s all I said. The same as they’ve talked to Pittsburgh about Marc-Andre Fleury.
“Is it possible the Tampa Bay Lightning could trade netminder Ben Bishop? Yeah, absolutely it’s possible. I would have told you that during the Stanley Cup playoffs. They’ve got a cap crunch coming in Tampa, with or without Stamkos. Ben Bishop is a year away from unrestricted free agency. They’ve got a tremendous goaltender, a young goaltender in Vasilevskiy, who played very well in the playoffs. They’d be foolish not to explore their options. That’s not a news story. That’s not a flash.
“Now apparently some dim bulb in Tampa has started to say that ‘there’s reports out of Canada that Calgary has a deal in place for Ben Bishop,’ which, if they do, it’s news to me. I certainly didn’t say that, and I’m not aware of anybody else who did either.”
Bishop’s heading into the last of a two-year, $11.9 million deal with a $5.95M average annual cap hit. He turns 30 in November and while he’s been spectacular for the Bolts over the last two years, he is quite injury prone.
There’s also the Lightning cap situation to consider. Bishop wouldn’t be the only key player staring at free agency next summer — Victor Hedman, set to go unrestricted, will need a new deal, as will prized RFAs Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin.
Update: For what it’s worth, Bishop told the Tampa Bay Times that he expects to stay with the Lightning … but he’s not stressing out about it either way.
“I expect to be back,” Bishop said. “It’s never really crossed my mind going somewhere else. As far as I’m concerned, I have another year here and I fully expect to be back. If I’m not, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“But I’m not going to sit here and worry about the ‘what ifs.’ It’s a waste of time.”