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Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning’s Bishop, Lindback can push each other


Published:   |   Updated: April 7, 2013 at 01:50 PM
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -

The dissecting and picking apart of trades happens all the time. Somebody has to be the loser in a deal, and somebody has to come away with the upper hand.

But not all the time.

Take the deal Tampa Bay just made to acquire G Ben Bishop in exchange for potential rookie of the year candidate Cory Conacher, who quickly became a popular figure among Lightning fans. Why can’t this be a win-win?

Conacher is going to be a good player and will help Ottawa, especially in the short term, as the Senators are in need of help up front with the injuries sustained this season. The 23-year-old will fit in nicely.

Bishop, meanwhile, will be a good fit for the Lightning.

The 26-year-old goaltender paid immediate dividends in his 45-save shutout against Carolina in his debut. And Bishop will most likely see plenty of action in the final three-plus weeks of the season as he steps into a situation that will benefit both him and Tampa Bay.

But next season, having both Bishop and Anders Lindback, two young players with the potential to be No. 1 goaltenders and each with similar frames, will prove to be a benefit for both. And in turn, that should benefit the Lightning as a team.

General manager Steve Yzerman knew heading into the summer that he was going to have to once again dip into the goaltender market. With Mathieu Garon’s contract up at the end of the season, Tampa Bay was going to be in need of a goaltender to either play behind Lindback or in front of him. Whether that meant going after a veteran who might be available via trade — such as Ryan Miller or Roberto Luongo — or into a potentially thin free-agent market, Yzerman was going to be on the lookout.

“Whether it was signing Mathieu Garon to another contract or looking at other options, I wanted to bring somebody in here, somebody who was going to ease the burden on Anders Lindback to allow him to grow and get better without the extra burden of having to be the guy 65 nights a year,” Yzerman said.

So instead of delving into the summer market, Yzerman used the depth at forward that has been created in two-plus season since he took over the role, to perhaps find the best solution of all — bring in a second young goaltender who will create a competitive environment.

“They are two very good talents,’’ goaltending coach Frantz Jean said. “They are both guys with a high work ethic and a high commitment level, so I think both guys will push themselves to be better goaltenders. Ben is a couple of years older … and that couple of years makes a big difference, so I think (Lindback) will feed off that, and I think Ben will feed off Lindy as well with his competitive level and his abilities and work ethic.’’

So now, after searching for a solution to the Lightning’s revolving door of netminders, Yzerman has found the key by adding two promising young goaltenders and letting them sort out the situation.

“It’s been difficult (to find a solution), I’m not surprised by that, and the goaltending position is tough,” Yzerman said. “We’ve tried different things, but in going with these two younger guys, it’s important that we just be patient.’’

And with 2012 first-round pick Andrey Vasilevskiy, University of Minnesota freshman Adam Wilcox and former first-round pick Riku Helenius still coming through the pipeline, the present and future in goal continues to look bright.


eerlendsson@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7835

Twitter: erlendssonTBO

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