Who should the Bolts keep? Stamkos or Bishop?

by Gary Shelton on June 29, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Bishop finished second in the Vezina Trophy voting./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Bishop finished second in the Vezina Trophy voting../TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Friday, 6 a.m.

Steven Stamkos or Ben Bishop? Pick one.

Would you rather have the guy who scores more goals than any other Lightning player, or the guy who stops more shots than anyone else? The guy who barely got into this year's playoffs, or the guy who left them prematurely?

Stamkos or Bishop?

Who would you keep?

At this point, it feels hollow, as if the chances of both of them being gone next year are higher than the chances of both of them being back, which would

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Stamkos has rare scorer's gift.

Stamkos has rare scorer's gift.


cause a serious reshaping of the roster. But the Lighthing was willing to trade Bishop over the weekend if it had gotten a better return, and it seems to be braced to lose Stammer.

In other words, this managing the cap deal is a serious concern. If the Bolts keep Bishop, is there room for Stamkos (considering all the other work the team has to do)? If the Bolts pay Stamkos, can they afford Bishop?

Goaltenders, of course, affect every game they play. Even the best forwards don't always score. But the gift Stamkos has is more rare.

And how does next season's expansion draft affect things?

You hear rumors. Already, you can hear about Toronto and Buffalo and Vancouver and other teams with Stamkos. Now come the rumors of Bishop and Calgary.

Calgary settled for Brian Elliott, a lesser goaltender, than meet the Lightning's price.  That's good. It's nice to know that  Steve Yzerman is stubborn enough that he won't give him away.

It got so bad with Stammer that there are even whispers that the Bolts might trade the rights for Stamkos for something, just so a team might get an early edge in the competition for him. That was never liable to happen, though. Why buy today what you can get for free next week?

So, if you can afford just one, who do you pick?

The Lightning seems to be full of Bishop. For all of the praising of young Andrei Vasilevskiy they have done, I'm not sure anyone believes he's ready for the full load quite yet. Remember, Bishop won 35 games this year, and in 11 more, he held the opponents to two goals or less. He led the league in save percentage and goals-against. He's certainly not worth trading just because the Lightning can.

For some reason, Stamkos doesn't seem to be held in quite the same regard. Oh, the Lightning think he is good, but when you ask if he's thought of as the best player on the team, you get a look of hemming and hawing. There are those who wish Stamkos could do more to create his own shot.

Still, can the Lightning, which has lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion in each of the last two years, afford to be without both players? Do the Bolts score enough to live without Stamkos? Do they defend well enough to be without Bishop?

Here's the difference: Bishop is one year away from a new contract. If you sign Stamkos, he's eight years away. So if I can deal with either of them, I side with Stammer. In a year, you're probably going to have to do something with Bishop anyway.

If I have the choice,  I keep Stamkos. I ponder whether it's better to move Bishop now or at the trade deadline.

And I cross my fingers the Lightning are right on Vasilevskiy.

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