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Numbers Game: Sens deal Bishop to Lightning for Conacher

Scott Cullen
4/3/2013 3:13:04 PM
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The Tampa Bay Lightning have been undermined by subpar goaltending all season and made a move with the Ottawa Senators to address that need.

Numbers Game examines the deal for Ben Bishop.

The Lightning Get: G Ben Bishop.

Bishop, 26, has performed well (11-8-2, 2.47 GAA, .917 SV%) since arriving in Ottawa last season, which makes him attractive enough to a Lightning team that needs goaltending.

Right now, Lightning G Anders Lindback is out with a high ankle sprain, so veteran backup Mathieu Garon can return to the backup role while Bishop starts for the rest of the season.

Though Bishop comes with a modest $650,000 cap hit this season (www.capgeek.com), he will be a restricted free agent at season's end. If he finishes the year strong and perhaps helps the Lightning challenge for a playoff spot, he'll be due for a sizeable raise.

Going forward, Bishop can compete with Lindback for the starter's role and, if he plays well now, he'll have the lead because Lindback struggled when given his first opportunity as the starter for the Lightning.

Tampa Bay could afford to move Conacher because they have an abundance of quality forward prospects. Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik and Ondrej Palat have all played for Tampa Bay this year while Brett Connolly and J.T. Brown are quality players in the American Hockey League.

The Senators Get: LW Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick.

Conacher is a 23-year-old rookie who has been a remarkable story: an undrafted free agent out of Canisius College, hardly a collegiate hockey power, who ranks second among all rookies with 24 points (9 G, 15 A) in 35 games.

Undersized, at 5-foot-8, Conacher had to battle to get noticed and earn a spot in the league, so it was a rapid ascent to find himself playing alongside Steven Stamkos early in the season and his production was superb, with 18 points in 19 games. It's tailed off since, with two goals and six points in 16 games, and Conacher's ice time has dipped (12:48 per game in March).

In Ottawa, Conacher jumps into a group of young Senators forwards that he can grow with going forward. Conacher's goal and point totals would be enough to put him at the top of the Senators' stat sheet right now. There are factors involvedd, like injuries to Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson in Ottawa, and time with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis in Tampa Bay.

Expecting Conacher to be a focal point of the Senators offence isn't fair, but he can be a contributing part of their top six forwards. As it stands right now, he could easily slide in alongside Kyle Turris and Daniel Alfredsson on Ottawa's number one line.

Conacher's entry-level deal, which comes with a $925,000 cap hit, expires after next season, at which point he will be a restricted free agent.

The Senators could afford to let Bishop go because they are very deep in net, with Craig Anderson expected to return from injury this week and promising rookie Robin Lehner performing at an exceptionally high level this season.

Ultimately, it's a case where two teams dealt from positions of strength in order to address areas of weakness.


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