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Blues prospect goalie Ben Bishop putting up numbers worthy of 6-foot-7 frame

Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 4:55 PM / News

The Canadian Press

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Blues prospect goalie Ben Bishop putting up numbers worthy of 6-foot-7 frame

At six foot seven, Ben Bishop is hard to miss.

That has been beneficial for the big goaltender who has put up numbers worthy of his stature for the American Hockey League's Peoria Rivermen this season. With the NHL's Feb. 27 trade deadline fast approaching, Bishop is hoping his success prompts a team to phone up the St. Louis Blues and make a deal — a scenario that likely represents his quickest route back to the big leagues.

"I think I know where I'm at, I think the Blues know where I'm at and I think 29 other (NHL) teams know where I'm at," Bishop said Thursday in an interview. "If something happens, something happens. If not, I go into the off-season and become an unrestricted free agent and go on from there."

Bishop has had a taste of NHL life before.

He played six games for the Blues during his first professional season in 2008-09 and appeared in another seven last year. The 25-year-old arrived at training camp in September expecting to earn a spot on the NHL roster, only to be narrowly edged out by Brian Elliott on the eve of the regular season.

That was the beginning of a fairytale run for Elliott, who went on to become a NHL all-star and recently signed a US$3.6-million, two-year extension that likely sealed Bishop's fate in St. Louis. With No. 1 man Jaroslav Halak also under contract for two more years, there isn't enough room for everyone.

"I expected to be in the NHL (this season)," said Bishop. "I thought I came off a good year last year. ... I had a good training camp and I still think I should have been the one that was chosen, but obviously they went with Elliott and he's run with it. You've got to give him credit."

To Bishop's credit, he didn't sulk after being sent down to Peoria.

He's currently among the AHL leaders in every important statistical category with a 23-13-0 record, .929 save percentage and 2.25 goals-against average — not to mention a league-leading six shutouts.

Bishop was also named MVP of the league's recent all-star game and tends to stand out because of his size. The NHL has trended towards bigger goalies over the last two decades and Bishop would become the largest of them all — standing one inch taller than Florida's Jacob Markstrom, Calgary's Henrik Karlsson and Nashville's Anders Lindback.

"I've always been one of the tallest," said Bishop. "I never had to really go through one of those stages where I had to adjust to my body, where I grew five inches in one summer. I've always been one of the taller ones and I think that's part of the reason I wasn't unco-ordinated or anything like that."

Bishop has plenty of reason to believe he'll soon find his way to the NHL one way or another. If the Blues choose not to trade him in the next 10 days, he'll become an unrestricted free agent in the summer.

Moving on would come with some mixed emotions — Bishop was born in Denver and raised in St. Louis — but he feels fortunate just to have had the chance to wear the sweater of his childhood team.

The Blues drafted Bishop in the third round in 2005 and were quick to give him a shot after he left the University of Maine in 2008. Ironically, he believes that first NHL stint might have stunted his growth a bit.

"Getting called up my first year — I was up for a long time — I think it was good for me and it was bad for me too," said Bishop. "I think I got maybe a little bit complacent thinking it was going to happen pretty easily. You've got to realize there's a lot of work that needs to be done to play up there at an elite level."

A few years later, he feels as though he's put in the requisite work. Now Bishop is just waiting for the call.

"I think I've kind of put it all together this year," he said. "It's going well. I'm just trying to prove to 29 other teams along with St. Louis that I'm ready to play."

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