Last season was not a banner year for any goalie that manned the crease for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning finished 26th in the NHL with a team goals-against-average of 3.06 and tied for 24th in the League with a .899 team save percentage. Tampa Bay was also one of four teams to have four different goalies suit up last season, with Anders Lindback playing the most (24 games and 21 starts).
Lindback, 25, started the season 4-1 in his five January starts, but it was mostly downhill from there. The 6-foot-6 Swedish netminder missed 14 games due to an ankle injury in April and finished the season with a 10-10-1 record in 24 starts, as well as the NHL's 42nd-best GAA (2.90) and 38th-best save percentage (.902). He also gave up four-plus goals in six of his starts last season and did not win in any of his three April starts when he returned from injury.
The 26-year-old Bishop seems to have found a place where he can finally capture the starting goalie position as he was passed over by the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators in his previous stops. The 6-foot-7 goaltender played in a career-high 22 games last season between Tampa Bay and Ottawa, finishing with an 11-9-1 record and a 2.67 GAA and .920 save percentage. For the Lightning, Bishop was 3-4-1 with a 2.99 GAA and .917 save percentage and recorded the team's only shutout, a 45-save performance against the Carolina Hurricanes in his debut with the club.
Looking at career statistics, the younger Lindback has played in more games (62) than Bishop (45), but Bishop has a slightly better GAA (2.67 to 2.68) and save percentage (.913 to .909). So what does all of this mean for fantasy owners this season when it comes to drafting a Lightning goalie?
The better individual fantasy asset at this point is Bishop, who has proved to be the more reliable goalie and is prepared to take on the majority of starts. The Lightning are in the new Atlantic Division, and with both goalies having only five career wins in 18 career games played against their new division opponents, we do expect a time share between the two young goalies, with Bishop ending up with more victories and better overall numbers.
Owning both Lightning goalies might be the best option, as fantasy owners should not expect either one individually to be ranked in the top 15 at the position. But if the Lightning improve this season, targeting this tandem can pay dividends for a fantasy team.