NHL Trade Speculation: Possible Destinations for Ben Bishop
Goaltender Ben Bishop, who has been with the St. Louis Blues organization since he was drafted in 2005, could very well be on the move as the NHL trade deadline approaches. Ever since the Blues traded for Jaroslav Halak in the summer of 2010 and signed Brian Elliott to a contract extension in January, Bishop has looked to be the odd one out in the team's plans.
He is currently playing with the Blues' AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen. In his fifth season with the team, he has a 24-13 record with a .928 save percentage and a 2.26 GAA. He has played 13 games with St. Louis in his career, posting a 4-5-1 record with a .899 save percentage and a 2.76 GAA.
Bishop will be a restricted free agent this summer and currently is on an NHL contract with a $600,000 salary. If the Blues choose not to keep him, there are some teams that would like to have him as a backup, or even as a part of their AHL team.
Here are seven possible landing spots for Ben Bishop.
Columbus Blue Jackets
With how bad Columbus is this season, they can always be mentioned as a possible trade partner with most, if not all, teams. The Blues would be no exception if they were looking to move Bishop.
Steve Mason has been downright awful since going 33-20-7 in 2008-09 to win the Calder Trophy. He has not had a winning season since and is currently 8-21-3 with a .888 save percentage and 3.44 GAA.
The backup options are not much better. Curtis Sanford is currently on injured reserve and has not played since Feb. 9. He wasn't doing well before getting hurt, going 10-13-4. However, his save percentage (.915) and GAA (2.52) were still improved over Mason's numbers.
Mark Dekanich, the Jackets' other offseason signing in goal, is done for the season after having surgery to repair an ankle injury.
Bishop would be a good choice to come in and give the Jackets some professional experience, and with Mason not getting any better, he could even have a chance to take the reins for the rest of the season.
Nikolai Khabibulin, who is 39 years old, has fallen off after a hot start to the season. He is currently 12-16-5 with a .914 save percentage and a 2.60 GAA, meaning he will likely go another year without a winning season. He has not had a strong year since 2008-09, when he went 25-8-7 with a .919 save percentage and 2.33 GAA as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Devan Dubnyk looked solid last year and seemed ready to take charge in goal, going 12-13-8 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.71 GAA. However, right now, he is 11-4-1 with a .906 save percentage and a 2.97 GAA.
The Oilers have two other goalies on NHL contracts in David LeNeveu and Yann Danis. However, both have bounced around to different organizations over their careers and are not long-term solutions.
Bishop could come into the Oilers and give them a dependable goalie who can be ready when called upon, as well as be someone to step in as a possible replacement for the aging and injury-prone Khabibulin.
While Carey Price is likely not going anywhere, he could use a better backup in goal. Peter Budaj, who is currently in the role after signing a two-year deal in the offseason, has never had a reputation as a strong NHL goaltender. He has not had a winning season since he was with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2007-08 campaign.
This year is no exception, as Budaj is just 2-5-1 in eight games with a .906 save percentage and 2.73 GAA.
The goaltending at the AHL level has inspired little confidence as well. Nathan Lawson is 16-13-3 with a .913 save percentage and a 2.63 GAA with the Hamilton Bulldogs. However, he is 1-4-2 in 10 NHL games.
Robert Mayer, in his second AHL season, has slipped this year, going 7-11-1 with a 3.16 GAA and a .900 save percentage. In 2010-11, he had a record of 9-10-2 to go with a .890 save percentage and 3.06 GAA.
Bishop would provide more stability in Hamilton but would also better be prepared to go to Montreal if Budaj or Price gets hurt, or if Budaj cannot start playing at a higher level.
New Jersey Devils
It's no secret that Martin Brodeur's time in New Jersey is coming to an end, and Johan Hedberg is also no spring chicken. The Devils need to get younger at the goaltending position and bring in some better prospects.
Keith Kinkaid, who was undrafted out of Union College, is the best prospect the Devils have at the moment. However, in his first professional season, he has struggled with consistency and may not be ready for the NHL in 2012-13. Still, he is 14-13-1 with a .904 save percentage and a 2.82 GAA.
Bishop would be a good replacement for Jeff Frazee, who has fallen out of favor over the years with the Devils. Like Bishop, Frazee is in his fifth AHL season. However, Frazee has never played an NHL game and is struggling again this year. He is 8-12-2 with a .900 save percentage and a 2.75 GAA.
Bishop could provide a good challenge to Kinkaid for the starting goaltender spot in Albany, and perhaps he could make a run at the backup job in New Jersey if Hedberg does not return.
Craig Anderson is the current starting goaltender in Ottawa. He was traded to the Senators from the Colorado Avalanche last season, and in March of 2011, he signed a four-year contract extension.
Anderson is earning his keep as Ottawa battles for a playoff spot. He is fourth in the NHL with 29 wins and also has a .913 save percentage and a 2.85 GAA.
Alex Auld, a 31-year-old journeyman, is Anderson's current backup. His play has dropped off this year, as he is 2-3-2 in 13 games with a .883 save percentage and a 3.28 GAA.
Bishop could be a good backup for Anderson, or he could fit in nicely with Ottawa's AHL affiliate in Binghamton, New York. The Sens' only goaltending prospect, Robin Lehner, is experiencing a decrease in his performance as well. He has an 8-16-1 record in 27 games with a .905 save percentage and a 3.38 GAA.
Last season, he went 10-8-2 with a .912 save percentage and 2.70 GAA as Binghamton won the Calder Cup.
Ottawa is extremely thin at the goaltending position, and bringing in Bishop would go a long way towards solving their problems.
Like Carey Price in Montreal, Marc-Andre Fleury is the Penguins' franchise goaltender and won't be packing his bags anytime soon.
But with Brent Johnson struggling this season and inexperienced prospects in the system, the Penguins could take a look at Bishop.
Johnson is 3-7-2 in 13 games this year with a .882 save percentage and 3.17 GAA. The reason for such a big drop-off is unclear, but his performance and age (34 years old) combine to almost guarantee he will not be back in Pittsburgh next season.
Brad Thiessen looks like he can be Fleury's backup next year, but he has yet to play an NHL game. Like Johnson, he is in the middle of a poor season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL, going 20-14-2 with a 2.88 GAA and a .885 save percentage.
After Thiessen, the Penguins have Mattias Modig, who has struggled with injuries, and Patrick Killeen, who is in his second ECHL season but has yet to see playing time in Wilkes-Barre.
Adding Bishop would give the Penguins more experience in goal in the farm system, and possibly a tandem to form with Killeen should Thiessen get the backup job next year.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Dwayne Roloson is a UFA after this season and is 42 years old. A disappointing season and his age means he most likely won't be back in Tampa next year. After a comeback season in 2010-11, he is 8-11-2 this year with a 3.67 GAA and a .893 save percentage.
The Bolts still have Mathieu Garon under contract for another year, but Garon has never been anything more than a backup. However, he is performing better than Roloson, posting a 19-15-4 record with a .903 save percentage and a 2.82 GAA.
In the AHL, Tampa has a good prospect in Dustin Tokarski, who could very well come to the Lightning next year. Tokarski has been consistent with the Norfolk Admirals and has three 20-win seasons. Currently, he is 23-11 with a .904 save percentage and a 2.41 GAA. But he has yet to play a game with Tampa.
Jaroslav Janus is also a nice prospect, but he could use a little more time in the AHL. He is 10-8-2 this season with a .897 save percentage and a 2.98 GAA.
Getting Bishop could give the Bolts more options in goal as well as some NHL experience that Janus and Tokarski lack.