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Fantasy impact: Ben Bishop trade

Kings strengthen goalie tandem; Andrei Vasilevskiy gains keeper-league value

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Senior Fantasy Editor

It's hardly surprising to see goalie Ben Bishop traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final season of his contract. But his new address and the timing of the move have certainly taken fantasy owners by surprise.

The Los Angeles Kings acquired Bishop from the Lightning on Sunday in exchange for a package that includes pleasant fantasy surprise Peter Budaj. This development came a day after Kings starter Jonathan Quick returned from a long-term injury absence, stopping 32 of 33 shots in a 4-1 home win against the Anaheim Ducks.


With Quick back in the fold and Bishop added to the mix, the Kings may have the strongest time-share tandem in the League. Bishop and Quick finished first (seventh overall) and sixth (38th overall) respectively among goalies in Yahoo's performance-based rankings last season. It has been a far different tale this season though, with Quick (93 percent owned) playing Saturday for the first time since opening night because of a groin injury. Bishop (93 percent owned) missed time in late December and early January because of a lower-body injury and shared starts (31) with Andrei Vasilevskiy (29) prior to the trade.

Bishop, who was tied for third in the League in wins from 2014-15 to 2015-16 (75 in 123 games), has outperformed Vasilevskiy but failed to meet high fantasy expectations. Bishop has a respectable record (16-12-3) with a 2.55 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and one shutout, but is 215th in Yahoo after being drafted on average with the 16th overall pick (second among goalies).

Video: Jon Rosen on the Ben Bishop trade, more Kings moves

Quick, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings and elite fantasy goalie since 2009-10, remains their No. 1 goalie in the short and long term. But Bishop has been brought in not only for insurance, but for short-term help with the Kings outside of Stanley Cup Playoff position with 21 games to go. Each should be owned in all fantasy formats.

Budaj (71 percent owned), meanwhile, stepped in for the injured Quick and outperformed even the highest fantasy expectations anyone could have envisioned behind a stout Kings defense. The 34-year-old is 27-20-3 with a 2.12 GAA, .917 SV% and tied for the NHL lead with seven shutouts. As of Sunday, Budaj was 21st overall in Yahoo's performance-based rankings, third among goalies behind Braden Holtby and Devan Dubnyk.

It was inevitable Budaj's start volume would eventually dip upon Quick's return, but this trade is likely to hurt his fantasy value more than if he remained with Los Angeles. Bishop's departure opens the door for the 22-year-old Vasilevskiy (42 percent owned) to become Tampa Bay's full-time starter. The Lightning are also currently outside of the postseason picture with 22 games remaining.

After a 6-1-1 start with a .951 SV% and two shutouts, Vasilevskiy is 5-12-4 with an .893 SV% and no shutouts since Nov. 29. With Bishop out of the picture and Budaj's contract ending after this season, Vasilevskiy is a must-have player in most keeper leagues. That said, don't drop Budaj in case Vasilevskiy falters in the final six weeks of the season -- a possible scenario if the Lightning fall out of contention.

In terms of back-to-back sets the rest of the way, the Lightning and Kings each have five left, meaning each of these four goalies remains fantasy relevant in the short term. Each team has already had their NHL-mandated five-day break.

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