Sunday, 3 August 2014

Bishop To King's Salary

If there was one individual who may have been overlooked as one of the better goaltenders in the NHL last season, it was Ben Bishop. People forget that he backstopped the Lightning while Steven Stamkos was hurt, and could very well have been the goaltender who led the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Final had he not been hurt in the final weeks of the NHL season. The Tampa Bay Lightning know how valuable he was last season, and they decided to reward Bishop with a solid new contract that moves him off his rookie pay scale and into the realm of "respected goaltenders". Needless to say, Bishop will make some nice coin over the next couple of seasons with this new contract.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and their goaltender agreed to a two-year contract extension worth a reported $11.9 million that will result in a $5.95 million cap hit over the two years. It's a nice jump up in pay from the two-year, $4.6 million contract he signed for the previous two seasons, and it's certainly reflective in the Lightning's faith that Bishop will continue to post numbers like he did last season when he wen 34-14-7 with five shutouts, a 2.23 GAA, and a .924 save percentage.

Bishop is one of those goaltenders who you sort of forget about because of where he plays. He's not flashy nor does he command attention, but the 27 year-old simply makes saves and plays his position well. He and goaltending partner Evgeni Nabokov should make the Lightning a formidable foe on any night next season with their experience, and Bishop will be counted on to carry the load of that work. With his new contract in his back pocket, there will be expectations for him to help the Lightning win in the same way and at the same frequency they were last season.

"I had one really good year this year; I think I've still got to prove myself," Bishop told the Tampa Bay Times. "I want to be consistent year in and year out. I don't want to be a one-hit wonder. I want to be even better this year."

Those are words that the Lightning players, coaches, management, and, most importantly, the Lightning fan should want to hear. After all, 34-14-7 is a pretty impressive record, and to get better means it sounds like he's aiming for a 40-win season. That's the mark of an elite goaltender.

The Tampa Tribune reports Bishop had surgery in May to repair ligament damage in his right wrist and had a screw removed from the wrist Tuesday. He will begin his next round of rehabilitation Monday, which includes getting back on skates. The dislocated elbow seems to be healing just fine in time for training camp in September.

"I have most of my range of motion back, but now it's just getting that strength back," Bishop told the newspaper. "But there is still some rehab left, the elbow feels good, and I'm just excited to try it out. I'm really excited for training camp."

If Bishop is excited, Lightning fans should be in for three great years of hockey in TeeBay. It could be much, much longer if Bishop plays as well as his new contract suggests he should. He might be a member of the Lightning for a lot longer if he delivers.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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