Reports today are that the Dallas Stars and goaltender Ben Bishop are close to coming to agreement on contract terms. The announcement could come as early as today, so stay tuned here.
Hearing that the Dallas Stars and Ben Bishop's camp are very close on a new contract... Could happen as early as today but we'll see...— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 12, 2017
The pending unrestricted free agent was acquired by the Stars earlier this week from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the 4th round pick they acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline this season.
Coming to an agreement on a contract feels like the next logical step. Obviously general manager Jim Nill had an idea of what Bishop was looking for in a next contract before acquiring him. It’s also obvious that the Stars needed an upgrade in net and believe they’ve found that in Bishop.
Sounds like six years, AAV just below $5M. https://t.co/kxgcPM8VB6— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 12, 2017
The contract is 6 years at $29.5 million total, for a cap hit of $4.92 million. The cap hit is well below what many were expecting, with his reported desire for a $6 million cap hit on a contract last summer permeating most people’s thoughts on his contract for this year.
The term is maybe a little longer than I would have been most comfortable with, but was likely needed to lower the cap hit. Bishop’s new contract will carry a lower cap hit than Kari Lehtonen’s $5.9 million and slightly higher than Antti Niemi’s $4.5 million. Both of those contracts have one season left on them, so we should anticipate at least one more move to unload a contract (with the most likely candidate being Niemi, whether through expansion draft, trade, or buyout).
In looking at Bishop’s season last year, many have questioned his average save percentage and whether he will be an actual upgrade in net. I took a quick peek at the save percentage of Bishop in high-scoring chance opportunities. These are the times in the game when the goaltender is the biggest factor in whether the team is getting scored on. And considering how many high-scoring chances the Stars gave up last season, they’ll need a goaltender that can bail them out in these situations. (I looked at only those goaltenders that had played in at least 20 games last season, and the rankings presented below are based on 53 total goalies that met this criteria.)
At even strength, Kari Lehtonen was actually 15th in the league in even strength high-scoring save percentage, with Ben Bishop slightly lower at 22nd. Bishop will be a big improvement over Antti Niemi in this situation, who ranked 42nd out of 53 with a sub-.800 save percentage in these situations.
The biggest improvement the Stars should see is on the penalty kill. While there was a lot wrong with the shorthanded unit in Dallas last season (historically bad penalty kills will do that), goaltending suffered as well. Bishop was a top 10 goaltender in save percentage in high-scoring situations last season, while Niemi (31st) was considerably better than Lehtonen’s nearly league-worst 67.57 HDSV% (51st out of 53).
All stats cited are from Corsica.