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Ben Bishop signs six-year contract with Stars

Goaltender acquired by Dallas on Tuesday, could have become unrestricted free agent July 1

by Sean Shapiro / NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS -- In a way, goaltender Ben Bishop is coming home after signing a six-year, $29.5 million contract with the Dallas Stars on Friday.

During the 2004-05 season, Bishop, who is from Denver, played for Texas of the North American Hockey League and attended Frisco High School, less than 3 miles from the Stars practice facility.

"It had a lot to do with it, to be honest," Bishop said Friday. "Now it's about going where you think you have a chance to win and a good city, and Dallas has both of that. Having a familiarity with the city and actually playing there with the Tornado before and knowing how good of a city it is and how good the fans are, it made it an easy decision to want to sign there."

Bishop, 30, acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday for a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, could have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. HIs contract is worth $4.92 million annually. 

 

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Bishop said he was motivated to the sign with Stars after the trade and likes the potential in Dallas, even after it missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs one year after posting the best record in the Western Conference.

"I think it's a great team [that] has a lot of potential, and was one of the reasons I wanted to sign there," Bishop said. "It's hard to find forwards that can score like the Stars can, and they have a lot of them. As a goalie it makes it a little bit more comforting to know the guys in front of you can go out there and score."

Bishop was looking for a long-term contract but said it wasn't a determining factor. He said he felt it was good for both sides and gives the Stars a bit more flexibility.

"Hopefully with the deal we can go out and get some great players and keep winning," Bishop said.

Bishop told DallasNews.com on Wednesday he was looking forward to playing for the Stars in part because of his relationship with coach Ken Hitchcock. Though Bishop has never played for Hitchcock in the NHL, he said he came to know him during workouts in his offseason hometown when Hitchcock was coach of the St. Louis Blues.

Video: The Stars signed Bishop but was it the right move?

"I think we have a good relationship, and I know his teams in St. Louis were tough to play against," Bishop said. "I don't want to get ahead of myself, but this looks a lot like the team we had [with the Tampa Bay Lightning] when I first got there. There is plenty of firepower to score goals, and the opportunity is there to work on the other areas and improve those areas."

Hitchcock was fired by the Blues on Feb. 1 and was hired to replace Lindy Ruff with the Stars on April 12.

Bishop said he is focused on "winning game one" and making the playoffs next season.

He is 148-80-25 in 270 NHL games with the Lightning, Kings, Ottawa Senators and St. Louis Blues and had a .910 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average in 39 games this season. He has a .919 save percentage, 2.32 GAA and 19 shutouts in his NHL career and twice has finished in the top three in Vezina Trophy voting (second in 2015-16; third in 2013-14).

Video: Ben Bishop acquired from the Kings for draft pick

Bishop was coming off a two-year, $11.9 million contract he signed with Tampa Bay before the 2015-16 season. He was traded to the Kings with a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft for goaltender Peter Budaj, defenseman Erik Cernak, a seventh-round pick in the 2017 draft, and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2017.

Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen were the Stars goaltenders last season. Lehtonen was 22-25-7 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .902 save percentage, and Niemi was 12-12-4 with a 3.30 GAA and .892 save percentage.

Dallas was 29th in the NHL in goals allowed per game (3.17) and 30th and last in save percentage (.893).

The Stars will have to move or buy out one of the goalies in the offseason, and likely will expose them in the NHL Expansion Draft that will supply the Vegas Golden Knights with their players. NHL teams can protect one goaltender and must submit their list of protected players by 5 p.m. ET June 17. Vegas must choose one player from each NHL team.

Bishop did say he was eager to work with Lehtonen.

"I know Kari pretty well, actually," Bishop said. "The last couple summers we've gone to the same goalie camp, and I've got to know him pretty good over the last few years and he's a great guy. We have a really good relationship and I'm looking forward to being a partner with him."

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