Stars ink Bishop to six-year, $29.5-million contract - LA Kings Insider

Juan Ocampo/NHLI

The Dallas Stars have reached an agreement with ex-King Ben Bishop on a six-year, $29.5-million contract extension, as first reported by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun and the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika. Los Angeles had traded the goaltender to Dallas for a fourth round draft pick on Tuesday.

Bishop had been acquired along with a fifth round draft pick in exchange for prospect Erik Cernak and a seventh round draft pick on February 26. He went 2-3-2 with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage in seven games (six starts) with the Kings.

First off, congratulations to Bishop, who was friendly and a pleasure to work with and always had time to talk off-hand with the press. (That last part isn’t particularly important, but it did allow us to get to know him a little bit during his brief stay in Los Angeles.) He’s an enormous baseball and St. Louis Cardinals fan, and when he was traded to the Kings, he said he had really hoped to get to Dodger Stadium at the start of the season. Shortly after his trade, I checked to see if the Cards happened to play in Arlington this season. (They don’t.)

So, you may have noticed that Dallas now has three goalies under contract for next season at a hit of approximately $15.32-million. This isn’t particularly fair to Bishop, because he’s a better goalie than his intermittent usage amidst two difficult situations showed, but those three goalies combined to post a 2.86 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage over 7,130 minutes last season. That’s not good!

Those numbers were highly influenced by injuries, defensive depth and Dallas’ systems under Lindy Ruff, who was let go after the season. Ken Hitchcock has returned to coach the club, and while the team’s checking play should improve, the Stars would still be well served by the acquisition of a top-four defenseman with some bite in his game. Things aren’t particularly dire, though. Dallas was the division winner in 2016 and was among the teams with the most man-games lost to injury in 2016-17, and they own the third pick in the upcoming draft, which could provide some leverage and is obviously a very good asset to have.

As I’ve heard, and as been reported by Heika, Niemi at this point stands to be the odd-man out. Via the Dallas Morning News:

That allowed Nill to make this move. The Stars can now protect Bishop in the expansion draft while exposing Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. If Vegas takes either, the Stars will be relieved of the final year of that player’s salary. If Vegas leaves both, Dallas will likely look to trade Niemi or buy him out.

The window for NHL buyouts is June 15-30, and the cost is two-thirds of the salary spread out over two seasons. With Niemi having one season remaining at $4.5 million, that would mean a salary-cap hit of $1.5 million for two seasons.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, is looking to strengthen its goaltending pipeline again this season. There are two processes in play here: choosing a suitable back-up for Jonathan Quick, and restocking the chain behind him in the minor leagues and in junior hockey or collegiate prospects whether via the NHL Draft or free agent signings.

For those of you who may not be aware, this is, uh, not Bishop’s first stay in Texas. Happy trails, Ben.