It should be almost painfully apparent by now that Steve Yzerman knows what he is doing running the Tampa Bay Lightning. From making the best of a bad Martin St. Louis situation, to finding a way to improve the team through free agency without overpaying, Yzerman has made the Lightning a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. In inking star goalie Ben Bishop to a two-year extension, Yzerman further cemented that point.
Bishop is coming off his first full season as a starter, and in that first season was a Vezina Trophy finalist as he was among the league’s top goalies. A deal for slightly less than $6 million for a 27-year-old goalie coming off a breakout season may be a bit of a risk, but the rewards far outweigh the risks. If the Lightning want to contend for the Stanley Cup next season, they’ll need a repeat performance from Bishop. Given the improvements the team has made to players in front of them this offseason, it wouldn’t be a stretch.
In retrospect, the deal that brought Bishop to Tampa from the Ottawa Senators was nothing short of highway robbery. The Lightning sent a young forward in Cory Conacher who was playing well in the team’s top six to the Sens along with a fourth-round pick and received Bishop in return. This season, while Bishop ascended to new heights, Conacher played abysmally and was eventually waived by the Senators.
It goes without saying, if Bishop was healthy, the Lightning wouldn’t have gotten swept by the Montreal Canadiens and their playoff run would’ve lasted a little longer. This year, the Lightning hope that won’t be the case and their playoff run lasts long into the humidity of the early summer in Florida. Having their 6-foot-7 giant between the pipes definitely helps make that dream a realistic one.