The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed Vezina finalist goalie Ben Bishop to a two-year extension at $11.9 million. The extension doesn’t doesn’t kick in until after the 2014-2015 season. Under the new contract, Bishop will make $5.95 million towards the cap, quite a bump from his pitiful $2.2 million salary. While many will look at this deal and say well GM Steve Yzerman had to lock Bishop up and should have given him more years, this contract is actually a brilliant move on Yzerman’s part.
This contract will satisfy the cynics who believe investing in a goalie who has only one season under his belt for a few reasons.
The first reason cynics should be satisfied is term. This deal is for two-years, not the CBA maximum eight. While many may think that it’s a no-brainer to not give a 27 year-old goalie a max term deal as they could point to the New York Islander and Rick Dipietro, who got a 13-year deal and didn’t play much of it. Even now people are looking at Corey Crawford’s six-year deal, which he received after winning the Stanley Cup, and shaking their heads.
Crawford had only one good season and while he hasn’t been lights out since then, he has been serviceable. The same could be said for Jonathan Quick and his ten-year deal too. Quick had an otherworldly postseason en route to his Cup victory and the Los Angeles Kings brass felt it was time to lock him up long term too.
Bishop had a phenomenal first season against a defense that was more than a bit suspect and unlike the Chicago Blackhawks and the Kings, Yzerman isn’t going to christen up the throne of starting netminder to a guy who just finished his first season. But he is going to need someone talented and Bishop fits the build—for now. Also there isn’t any certainty that Bishop won’t get hurt again and giving a guy 6-8 years when he may be injury prone. (Although tearing a tendon in one’s wrist and having a dislocated elbow aren’t usually common goalie injuries.) So giving Bishop an extra two years to prove his worth as an NHL starter isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He has only played in one full season and 67 games at that.
The other thing that some may be unhappy with but also makes sense for this deal is the money. Bishop’s salary was going to jump, especially after being in the race for the Vezina, due to what he means to the franchise right now.
The franchise doesn’t have an NHL starter this upcoming season and it would be nice not to rush the development of some of their talent such as Andrei Vasalevskii and Kristers Gudlevskis, both have great potential if they aren’t rushed into a situation—and Yzerman doesn’t rush his talent see Drouin, Jonathan. So while many wince at a 5.95 cap hit, it does pay Bishop market value without breaking the bank.
It’s a similar deal to that of Columbus Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky received after winning the Vezina. Bobrovsky received a two-year deal a little less than what Bishop is making but it was very similar circumstances. Both played well and rung the bell afterwards and now it’s Bishop’s turn to show a little consistency.
It seems that there are few contracts that aren’t scrutinized by media, management and fans but this one should receive less scrutiny. All of the bases seem to be covered under this deal and the Lightning get a pretty good goalie in the interim while waiting for their prized goalie Vasalevskii to ascend to the throne.
Right now this deal is a win-win for the Bolts and makes Yzerman look brilliant yet again.