With the Lightning mired in a down year and facing the reality of a tremendous cap crunch in the offseason, Bishop, a pending UFA, had to be moved. The fact of the matter is that Andrei Vasilevskiy is more than capable of manning the Tampa crease, and at a fraction of the cost. Of course, just because trading Bishop has looked like the smart thing to do for a while doesn't mean that it was ever a guarantee. The market for goaltenders is notoriously weak, and there were other options available (read: Ryan Miller). The fact that Yzerman was able to turn a great asset like Bishop into something, even if the return isn't of a jump-for-joy sort of quality, makes this a great day for the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.Ben Bishop has been traded to LAK.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 26, 2017
The complete details of the trade as as follows:
There is also a conditional pick on the Los Angeles-to-Tampa Bay side of the equation, but the details on it have not yet been released.Trade Official: Bishop, 2017 5th to LAK for Budaj, Cernak and a 2017 7th.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 26, 2017
Bishop, of course, has been a Lightning fan favorite since arriving during the 2013 season in the trade that sent Cory Conacher to the Ottawa Senators. That trade, arguably Yzerman's greatest bit of wizardry since taking the helm, set up what has truly been an epic era of Tampa Bay Lightning hockey. With Ben Bishop acting as their rock, the Bolts reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and the Eastern Conference Final in 2016. They were ever so close to reaching hockey's tallest peak. A lot of the credit for that goes to Bishop, who solidified a Lightning crease that had been an unmitigated disaster for many years prior to his arrival. He will, without a doubt, go down as one of the best goaltenders to ever wear Tampa Bay blue.
#LAKings Communications tells me that there are "...a lot of conditions..." on the conditional pick that TBL got. No details yet.— Frozen Royalty (@frozenroyalty) February 27, 2017
On the surface, the return in this deal is underwhelming for the Lightning. Peter Budaj will prove to be a capable backup to Vasilevskiy, but nothing more. Erik Cernak was a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, but hasn't done much to 'wow' observers since moving over to North America. The seventh round pick? Well, it might become Ondrej Palat. Or it might not. But, again, the point is that Yzerman has to get something out of Ben Bishop, as he was going to walk on July 1st for nothing. He did.
If you had asked me last offseason whether the Lightning would/should trade Ben Bishop in the then coming months, I would have nodded without hesitation. If you had told me that the Los Angeles Kings would be the acquiring team, I probably would have laughed in your face. With Jonathan Quick back in action and Budaj providing them with solid goaltending in his absence, this move doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. It does make sense from a Tampa perspective, though, and that's all that should matter to frequent readers of this blog.
In summary, thanks for all the memories, Bish! Go win a Cup.
As always, thanks for reading.