The Tampa Bay Lightning may not be planning to keep Ben Bishop for the remainder of the campaign, but it’s going to be much harder to move the veteran netminder along if an apparent lower-body injury he suffered Tuesday night keeps him out long-term.
During the first period of the Lightning’s tilt against the Detroit Red Wings, Bishop appeared to suffer an injury to his right leg or groin when he stretched to his right to make a save. As soon as the shot came in from Red Wings defenseman Nick Jensen, Bishop fell forward onto the ice and appeared to be in obvious pain. He got to his feet, but he wasn’t putting any pressure on his right leg.
The play continued up ice as Bishop slowly got to his feet, but by the time the whistle had gone, Bishop headed to the bench, removed himself from the game and was replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy:
Losing Bishop wouldn’t be catastrophic for the Lightning at this point in the season, especially as he’s being vastly outplayed by Vasilevskiy, but it would be a significant blow for Tampa Bay in terms of asset management if Bishop can’t go for any great period of time.
As a free agent to be, Bishop’s trade value will be at a premium for any team seeking an upgrade in goal at or near the trade deadline. Though Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has flirted with the idea of keeping Bishop around for the rest of the campaign, there was a fair chance that he would have been dealt away by March.
Even if the Lightning were to keep Bishop, if his injury is serious enough to keep him out of action for any great length of time, it also puts pressure on Vasilevskiy to perform. While he’s been stellar thus far, it’s worth noting that he’s already more than halfway to his career-high in games played and he could very well have surpassed that total by the time the all-star break rolls around. There’s no experienced backup available in Tampa Bay to spell Vasilevskiy, either, if he starts to struggle and Bishop is sidelined.
As it stands, the AHL duo of Kristers Gudlevskis and Adam Wilcox, both 24 and with a combined two NHL games between them, would be the backup options in Tampa Bay.
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