Shoring up the goaltending position was on Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill's to-do list this offseason, and he made a move to do that Tuesday, acquiring goaltender Ben Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
"With expansion and the cap there was an opportunity to make a move at the goaltending front, and Bishop was definitely one of the guys at the top of our list," Nill said.
The 30-year-old Bishop, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist as the league's best goalie, should provide an upgrade in goal for the Stars, who ranked 29th in goals against (3.17) and 30th in save percentage (.893) this past season.
Bishop, who is 6-7, 216 pounds, played with both Tampa Bay and Los Angeles in 2016-17, posting an 18-15-5 record, 2.54 goals against average and .910 save percentage. In eight NHL seasons with the Lightning, Kings, Ottawa and St. Louis, he is 148-80-25, with a 2.32 goals against average and .919 save percentage. He's 21-13 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2.09 goals against average end .927 save percentage.
"He's proven he is an elite NHL goalie," Nill said. "He was second in the Vezina Trophy voting a year ago. Over the past six, seven, eight years he has been one of the elite goalies in the league. He's a big goalie in net. I love the way he competes. I love the way he handles the puck. He's a real asset to your defense and forwards the way he handles the puck."
Bishop, who has been hampered by injuries at times during his career, is in the final year of a contract that paid him $5.95 million and is a pending unrestricted free agent. The Stars will have exclusive negotiating rights with Bishop until July 1, when he becomes a UFA. Nill said there have been no talks with Bishop's camp about a contract yet, but he expects them to start them soon and is confident a deal can get done.
The Kings have been looking to move Bishop due to his pending free agency and Dallas reportedly was high on the goaltender's list of preferred destinations. Bishop, who is a Denver, Colorado native, has a history in the Dallas area, having played in Frisco with the Texas Tornado of the North American Hockey League in 2004-05.
The fourth-round pick the Stars sent to Los Angeles in the Bishop deal is the one Dallas received from Montreal along with defenseman Greg Pateryn in exchange for defenseman Jordie Benn prior to this season's NHL trade deadline.
If the Bishop deal gets done, the Stars will have to make some decisions regarding goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, who both are under contract for next season and have shared the Dallas net the past two seasons. The Stars will have to move at least one of them to make room for Bishop. Nill said time will tell how he moves forward on that front.
"We'll wait and see," Nill said. "We've got [the expansion draft] coming up, and we've got to figure all that out, and we're just going to see where that goes."
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.