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Vezina Trophy Leader

It was just before Christmas when I last picked Tuukka Rask as the Vezina Trophy leader as top goalie this season in the NHL.  While Rask is having a good season, he has been clearly surpassed by Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Bishop is posting a remarkable .938 saves percentage and a 1.80 GAA.  These are the best numbers in the NHL by a significant margin.  This makes Bishop our surprise Vezina Trophy leader.

When this season began, Bishop was expected to battle with Anders Lindback for Tampa Bay's number one goaltending job.  He has clearly won it.  At age 27 he wasn't a clear NHL starter before this season.  He played a career high 22 games last season, which isn't a number that puts him on the Vezina Trophy radar.

The interesting thing is Bishop was traded to Tampa Bay from Ottawa last season for Cory Conacher.  Conacher currently has four goals this season.  That trade is quickly becoming the biggest mistake made in the 2013 NHL season and yet those who made the mistake have not had to face that mistake.  Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, who traded him, just signed a new contract that keeps him in Ottawa through 2016.  You would think the Sens might want to take a second thought before locking up the guy who traded the top goalie in the league this year.  Assistant GM Tim Murray (Bryan's nephew) got a promotion despite whatever part he played in the deal.  He is now the Buffalo Sabres GM.  You would think that trading Bishop for such a small return would have made the Sabres think twice (if nepotism didn't). 

Ben Bishop has been the best goalie in the league so far this season.  This is a surprise.  I don't think anyone seriously expected that.  Nevertheless, I think his trade last year was a poor move for the Ottawa Senators - and many people should have seen that.  Despite that poor trade, the people who made it are getting promotions and new contracts.  Why doesn't that make sense?

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Comments

Chris from NOHS's avatar

Hard to argue this right now.  We’ll see if it continues.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 01/17/14 at 09:48 AM ET

Avatar

Why judge them based on one transaction? I don’t particularly like Craig Anderson, but the previous two seasons would make me look like a moron. Bishop is having a great season, but how long does it continue? Bobrovsky rode a great 20 game stretch to a Vezina last year that seems more like an anomaly compared to the rest of his career.

It’s hard to calculate who wins in the Bobby Ryan trade, so that is TBD.

But I do like their trades to acquire Turris, Methot, and Milan Michalek

Posted by fromdowntown on 01/17/14 at 09:56 AM ET

shazam88's avatar

Seriously? 

I get that you need to write things that are a bit edgy, but hindsight bias like that should never be used as the primary basis for judging someone’s performance. Do you really think that it was a viable option to get rid of a relatively cheaply priced, highly performing veteran (Anderson, at the time) and go with two untested rookies (Lehner and Bishop)?  That is precisely the sort of risk that no GM is going to take. If he trades Anderson and the near-rookies struggle while Anderson leads some other team to the playoffs, guess what you’re posting today?

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 01/17/14 at 11:26 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Where did you see me suggest anyone should have traded Craig Anderson?  I am saying the same thing I felt when the trade was made.  If you trade Ben Bishop, you better get something better than Cory Conacher in return otherwise you made a mistake.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/17/14 at 11:35 AM ET

shazam88's avatar

Where did you see me suggest anyone should have traded Craig Anderson?  I am saying the same thing I felt when the trade was made.  If you trade Ben Bishop, you better get something better than Cory Conacher in return otherwise you made a mistake.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/17/14 at 11:35 AM ET

Fair enough, PSH, you absolutely did not write that. I still think that it’s a harsh assessment to focus on a single transaction, particularly when it’s based the return for someone who was basically an AHL goalie with some mediocre stats in St. Louis, but you know what, I do agree…he was starting to turn some heads last year in Ottawa, and he’s 6 feet 7 friggin inches tall, lol.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 01/17/14 at 11:53 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

This single transaction has the potential to significantly change the direction of two franchises (Ottawa and Tampa Bay) for years to come.  Something that is that big a deal deserves a lot of attention.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/17/14 at 12:29 PM ET

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Could…but we can truly determine that once we see how Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop fare in the long term. Assuming that Lehner is Ottawa’s long term answer at the position. If not, then they surely slipped up in determining which goalie they needed to hold onto.

Posted by fromdowntown on 01/17/14 at 12:33 PM ET

Avatar

“That trade is quickly becoming the biggest mistake made in the 2013 NHL season”
Craig Anderson was their #1 goalie during 2013.
Robin Lehner was their #2 goalie/goalie of the future in 2013.
Ben Bishop was the #3 goalie. Bishop was obviously buried behind two other guys on their depth chart, for whatever reason(s) he was the #3 guy. Ottawa decided that instead of burying him in the minors and letting an asset decay they would utilize that asset in a trade to bring in a different asset. Bishop was never going to get the chance to prove that he could be the #1 goalie in Ottawa. Which was painfully obvious. 

“Nevertheless, I think his trade last year was a poor move for the Ottawa Senators - and many people should have seen that.”
Unfortunately, not everyone has the same crystal ball you do. You probably should be picking lottery numbers with it - but if it was working well enough in 2013 to see that in 2014 Ben Bishop would be the best goalie in the league, you would have PowerBalled it by now I’m sure.
Bishop obviously was not going to get a long look at being the #1 guy in Ottawa - many people did see that. Management also saw for whatever reason Anderson and Lehner were in the long term plans of the Senators, where as Bishop was not so they made the trade.

Despite that poor trade, the people who made it are getting promotions and new contracts. Why doesn’t that make sense?
Why doesn’t that make sense? Was it a poor trade? Sure, in hindsight it is. So were both Gretzky trades. So was Markus Naslund for Alex Stojanov - another situation where a guy (Naslund) needed a change of scenery to reach his potential. At the time the Senators dealt from a position of strength to address a position of weakness. Or maybe Bryan Murray said “Bishop is #3 on our charts, let’s trade him to give him a chance somewhere else to succeed”.
Either way, they chose to get something for him, their #3 goalie on their depth charts - how is that a mistake? Or is the mistake not knowing the future?  Nobody knew how Bishop would turn out and nobody knew how Conacher would turn out when they made the trade.
Also, Bishop was not going to get the chance to be the man in Ottawa. Look at Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus, he won the 2013 Vezina. Was he ever going to get a fair shake in Philadelphia? No, not at all.  Some guys need to be in the right situation where they can realize their full potential - Bishop being in Ottawa was obviously not that place.  Obviously you did not see that.

Posted by briguy on 01/17/14 at 01:51 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Briguy

One clear mistake made was making Ben Bishop the number three guy in the depth charts.  He clearly had enough talent that he should have been given a chance to play at the NHL level.  That led to the mistake of trading him for not much of a return.  It is a false statement that nobody knew how Bishop or Conacher would turn out.  We had some pretty good projections which reliably said Bishop would be more valuable.  The didn’t say Bishop might win a Vezina Trophy - but they didn’t have to in order to show this was a poor trade.

Listing a bunch of bad trades (which were pretty clearly poor trades in foresight as well as hindsight) does little to help your case.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/17/14 at 01:59 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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