Tampa Bay Lightning G Ben Bishop is staking his claim to be the best in franchise history.
Ben Bishop stands at a towering 6 feet 7 inches and is a brick wall in net for the Bolts. He has a Save Percentage of .928 and a Goals Against Average of 2.02, which ranks him tied for 2nd Place in save percentage and in 1st for Goals Against Average.
Those numbers are the best numbers he has posted so far in his NHL career. Coming off of a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, Bishop seems even more motivated to carry this team back through the playoffs.
Ben Bishop’s journey to becoming the main man in net for the Lightning was a long one. Nothing worthwhile is without adversity.
Bishop was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the third round of the 2005 NHL Draft and became one of their top prospects. He played sparingly for the Blues from 2008-2012 before he was traded to the Ottawa Senators on February 26, 2012. Bishop made his Senators debut on March 6, 2012 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, in a game which Ottawa won 7-3.
Ben Bishop was used primarily as a backup in Ottawa, but, would get his chance when he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2012-2013 trade deadline in exchange for forward Cory Conacher and a 4th round draft pick.
What a steal that was!!
Big Ben Bishop started off his Lightning career with a bang by shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes on April 4, 2013. Later that season, against the Hurricanes, Bishop would set a franchise record by posting 48 saves in a game. That same season, Bishop signed a 2 year, $4.6 million extension with the Lightning. It was safe to say that Bishop was earning the attention of his peers.
During the 2013-2014 season Bishop was named the starter over Anders Lindback and posted a 37–14–7 record in 63 games played. Bishop posted a .924 save percentage and a 2.23 GAA. He also posted 5 shutouts and set Lightning single season records for wins, save percentage and GAA. Bishop was nominated for the Vezina Trophy – NHL’s top goaltender – and finished third in voting. Bishop missed the playoffs that season, due to injury, and the Lightning were swept by the Montreal Canadiens.
On August 4, 2014 it was announced that the Lightning had extended Ben Bishop’s contract for two more years.
The 2014-2015 season would be a great season for the Lightning and a career season for Big Ben. Bishop won 40 games last season which is a personal best and a Tampa Bay Lightning franchise record. He also became the first Lightning goalie to record two assists in one game on March 30, 2015.
Bishop made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut against the Detroit Red Wings on April 18, 2015 and earned his first career playoff win in a 5-1 victory. Bishop joined rare company with Tim Thomas and Patrick Roy by posting two Game 7 shutouts in a single playoff year.
Bishop also became the only goalie to post two shutouts in two Game 7’s in his first season in the playoffs. He is also the first goaltender to post back-to-back playoff shutouts in Madison Square Garden, which would hand the New York Rangers their first Game 7 loss at home in franchise history.
Unfortunately, the Bolts lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals but what a season it was for the Bolts and their big man in net.
This season Bishop is on a roll once again. He has already surpassed Nikolai Khabibulin for the all time wins leader in franchise history when he posted his 84th win on October 17, 2015 against the Buffalo Sabres. He also is tied for 1st with Khabibulin for the most shutouts in franchise history with 14.
Big Ben is only the second Lightning goalie to be selected to an All-Star game and he is the only Lightning goalie in franchise history to record 100 wins. Bishop is playing the best hockey of his career and that is only going to boost the confidence of the rest of the team heading into the playoffs.
There has been a lot of chatter around the Tampa Bay area about what is going to happen when Bishop becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2017. With young phenom Andrei Vasilevskiy backing up Bishop this season the speculation is that Vasilevskiy will take over for Bishop sooner rather than later.
While I do believe that Vasi is our future, I firmly believe that the Bolts should figure out a way to keep Bishop through the next couple of seasons. With the salary cap situation that the Bolts are in I don’t know how to keep Bishop around and I’m happy that I don’t have to make that decision. But, how do you let go?
How do we let go of the best goalie in franchise history? How do we let go of one of the best goalies in the NHL? The Lightning have had an incredibly hard time in finding a goalie of Bishop’s caliber and there is talk of him being a cap casualty.. How? I understand the logic behind it. I understand that players come and go in this league. There has to be a way to keep Big Ben Bishop in a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform. Ben Bishop a cap casualty?