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Lightning's Bishop knows Stamkos will produce

Tampa Bay goalie calls potential free agent 'a heck of a leader'

by Bill Price @BillPriceNHL / Editor in Chief

LAS VEGAS -- Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop isn't sure where his teammate and potential unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos is going to play next season, but he is sure of one thing.

"He's going to be very productive. I know that," Bishop said Tuesday.

Stamkos, the Lightning captain, could hit the open market on July 1. Bishop, speaking at the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas ahead of the NHL Awards on Wednesday (7 p.m., ET; NBCSN, SN), says whoever lands the 26-year-old Canadian center will be getting a big-time player.

"He can really do it all; his speed is second to none," Bishop said. "He's tough, he's strong; he can play a physical game. He's a heck of a leader."

Stamkos had 36 goals and 28 assists in 77 games this season, but missed the final three games of the regular season and all but one Stanley Cup Playoff game after having surgery to treat a blood clot near his right collarbone. Tampa Bay lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games in the Eastern Conference Final.

In his eight seasons with the Lightning, Stamkos has 312 goals. He scored 60 goals in 2011-12, 51 in 2009-10 and has two other 40-goal seasons.

"The scary thing is he's still a young kid," Bishop said. "You put that all together, with his age and skill set he has, you won't find anyone much better."

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