After a season filled with uncertainty, the Tampa Bay Lightning have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings.
First reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Twitter (@TSNBobMcKenzie), the deal sends Bishop and a 2017 5th round draft pick to the Kings in exchange for net minder Peter Budaj, defenseman Erik Cernak and a 2017 7th rounder and another conditional 2017 pick.
Coming over to the Lightning at the 2013 trade deadline, Bishop quickly took the opportunity to start and ran with it. He was a two time Vezina Trophy finalist and led the Bolts to the 2015 Stanley Cup finals and 2016 Eastern Conference finals. He also holds the franchise record for wins and shutouts, along with becoming the all time leader in saves.
Put simply, Bishop was the first true elite net minder Tampa Bay had since Nikolai Khabibulin. He took a Lightning team with talent and put them over the top, evidenced by his two game 7 shutouts during their 2015 run to the Cup finals.
Budaj, on the other hand, has bounced around for much of his career. After an unimpressive campaign with the Winnipeg Jets, he signed a try-out contract with the Kings in August 2015. He impressed there, signing a deal with the team in October 2015. An opening day injury to starter Jonathan Quick gave Budaj another chance to prove himself at the NHL level. He did alright, keeping the Kings within striking distance of a Western Conference wild card spot until Quick returned in February 2017.
With the expansion draft looming, the thinking behind this trade had to be that both Budaj and Bishop wouldn’t be in their new homes for long. The Lightning do need a right handed shooting defenseman, a role Cernak could fill in the next year or two, and general manager Steve Yzerman has a thing with draft picks.
Bishop’s latest run, going 5-0-0 in his last five starts and getting the Lightning within striking distance of a playoff spot, is the only reason some Bolts fans are uneasy about the deal. Is Yzerman sending the message to loyal fans that playoffs are a pipe dream that won’t happen this season?
I’m not sure, as he’s essentially leaving the teams playoff fate up to the young Andrei Vasilevskiy who has one win in all of 2017. He’s talented, yes, and the defense has let him down on numerous occasions but he’s also struggled to find his groove. Couple that with a career backup and there’s reason for Lightning fans to be leery.
Did the Lightning win this trade or will this be one Yzerman regrets in the long run? While unknown at this time, I’m going to hope this deal benefits the boys in blue and can bring the Cup back to Tampa Bay.
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