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Fantasy spin: Ben Bishop can return to form with Stars

Goalie likely will be No. 1 in Dallas, has bounce-back potential next season

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

It was a difficult season for goaltender Ben Bishop, who knew it was likely he would be traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning because he was in the final season of his contract. The Lightning decided Andrei Vasilevskiy was their goalie of the future and traded Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 26, hurting his fantasy value as he went into a backup role to Jonathan Quick.

Bishop's stay with the Kings was brief. He was traded to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday and signed a six-year, $29.5 million contract with Dallas on Friday. Now he has a chance to return to form in 2017-18 as a No. 1 goalie and could be a fantasy asset again.

Since 2013-14, Bishop ranks fourth in wins (130), sixth in GAA (2.25) and 12th in SV% (.920) among goalies who have made at least 50 starts.

The Stars were 29th in the NHL in goals-allowed per game (3.17) and 30th in save percentage (.893), with Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi splitting the games. With the same goaltending pair in 2015-16, they were 20th in goals-allowed per game (2.78) and 23rd in save percentage (.904).

 

[RELATED: Bishop signs six-year contract with Stars]

 

Lehtonen and Niemi likely will be exposed in the NHL Expansion Draft that will supply the Vegas Golden Knights with their players. If Vegas doesn't choose one of them, there's a good chance Niemi or Lehtonen will be bought out with the other serving as Bishop's backup.

In 59 games this season, Lehtonen was 22-25-7 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. In 37 games, Niemi was 12-12-4 with a 3.30 GAA and .892 save percentage.

Bishop, 30, was 18-15-5 with a 2.54 GAA and .910 save percentage in 39 games with the Lightning and Kings. He went 2-3-2 with the Kings, but they scored 18 goals in his seven games and were 25th in scoring for the season at 2.43 goals per game. The Stars were 16th in scoring this season (2.71) after leading the NHL in 2015-16 with 3.23 goals per game. They're led by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who were two of 10 players to score at least 10 goals for Dallas this season.

His career numbers also bode well for a rebound. In 270 games Bishop has a 2.32 GAA, .919 save percentage and 19 shutouts. He was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in 2013-14 and 2015-16. Prior to this season he started at least 60 games for three straight seasons and finished with at least 35 wins and four shutouts.

Bishop is ready to take the reins in Dallas. How well he plays partly depends on the defense in front of him. But Bishop is better than Lehtonen and Niemi. He's been a top-10 and even a top-five fantasy goalie before and should provide a boost to fantasy owners, although it might not be immediately as he gets acclimated to a new team and system.

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