The Tampa Bay Lightning started the season by putting their faith in a 6-foot-6 goaltender. After that didn’t work out, they decided to deal for a 6-foot-7 goalie – at quite a cost.
The Ottawa Senators traded Ben Bishop, 26, to the Lightning for forward Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick. Yes, the same Cory Conacher, 23, that’s second in scoring among rookies at 24 points and has another year left on this contract at $925,000.
GM Steve Yzerman’s getting killed for this. Exhale, everyone.
Conacher’s numbers were a product of playing with elite talent, and he’s slowed to a crawl late in the season: 6 points in his last 16 games.
The key to the deal: Restricted Free Agency.
After next season, Conacher goes RFA. His numbers with the Lightning would have necessitated either a hefty contract raise or a cutting of bait with a player they didn’t want to pay. So let’s assume they didn’t want to pay him, and flipped him for a goalie prospect in Ben Bishop that acquitted himself well for the Senators this season.
But I’m not holding a parade for Yzerman yet. This is still rolling the dice on an unproven netminder, more goalies-on-the-cheap that got the Lightning in trouble with Anders Lindback. (Bishop is an RFA this summer).
And it can be argued that Bishop isn’t even the best goalie prospect for the Senators, thanks to the continued existence of Robin Lehner.
On the Milbury Scale, this gets: TWO.
It’s a trade that can help both teams now, but one that I believe will ultimately benefit the Lightning more. This isn’t going to be a popular trade in Tampa, or around the League, for the Lightning.
The headline shouldn't be "Yzerman Fleeced Again." It should be "Stevie Y Sells High."
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