The Lightning made one big acquisition — literally — on trade-deadline day, acquiring 6-foot-7 goaltender Ben Bishop from the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday in exchange for rookie forward Cory Conacher and a fourth-round draft pick in 2013.
The acquisition of Bishop creates competition next season for the No. 1 goaltending job with 6-foot-6 Anders Lindback, who was acquired from Nashville in June. Lindback is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain.
Bishop arrived in Raleigh late Wednesday and will be available for tonight’s game against Carolina.
Tampa Bay also did some reshuffling of its roster, calling up 2010 first-round pick Brett Connolly and Dana Tyrell from Syracuse of the American Hockey League, while reassigning goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, defenseman Andrej Sustr and forwards Ondrej Palat and Mike Angelidis.
The Lightning also assigned forwards Tyler Johnson and Richard Panik, along with defenseman Radko Gudas, in what essentially was a paper transaction to allow them to be eligible to play in the AHL playoffs this season. All three were immediately recalled and remain with the Lightning.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said the acquisition of Bishop is not an indictment against Lindback and where he is at in his development. Rather, it was an opportunity to bring in another goaltender to compete and share the workload moving forward instead of expecting one or the other — the two have a combined 95 games of NHL experience — to carry the weight next season and beyond.
“I think we have a good pair (of goaltenders), and we are excited to have these two young guys with what we think have good potential and will work well,’’ Yzerman said. “There will be plenty of opportunities for both to play. We won’t anoint either of them the No. 1 guy. We’ll let the situation evolve and we are going to let both of them play.
“Both can look to each other to ease the load that neither player is going to be expected to have to go out and start 60 games. I think it’s a good next step for both guys.’’
Bishop has been a strong fill-in for injured Craig Anderson with the Senators this season. In 13 games, Bishop, who was 8-5 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage, said he looks forward to sharing time with Lindback.
“I got the call and figured that I had been traded, and when I found out it was Tampa I was really excited,” Bishop said. “(The competition) is no different than anywhere I’ve been, including Ottawa, and everywhere you go there is always going to be competition. But at the same time, you are teammates, and when you get the chance to play you have to play well.”
The Senators acquired Bishop last season from St. Louis for a second-round pick. He was a teammate of current Tampa Bay forward B.J. Crombeen with the Blues.
“He’s very big, very lanky and very athletic,’’ Crombeen said. “You could see him (develop), from the time he first came up. You could see he was a big guy, coming in and getting his first taste and he had some games where he stood on his head.
“He went down to the American League and refined his game, found how to play that pro game and be that difference-maker each night. Obviously he’s continued that through this year.’’
Conacher, second in the NHL rookie scoring race with 24 points, had five multi-point games among his first seven this season while playing on a line with captain Vinny Lecavalier.
In recent games, however, Conacher saw his ice time dip as he dropped to a lower-line role, playing less than 10 minutes twice in the past three games.
He is looking forward to a fresh start in Ottawa.
“They are a team that wants me,” Conacher said. “I’ve talked to the organization and they are a team that wants me, so it’s a new start and it’s going to be fun. They are a team on the rise and hopefully we will get on a nice little playoff run this year.’’
Conacher said it was hard to leave the organization that gave him his first opportunity.
Undrafted out of Canisius, Conacher signed with the Lightning as a free agent. He went on to be named Most Valuable Player in the American Hockey League last season while helping Tampa Bay affiliate Norfolk to the Calder Cup championship.
“Tampa Bay wanted Bishop and Ottawa wanted me, so it’s straight up and that’s how it works. I love Tampa, I love the organization and they have done so many good things for me, but now it’s time to start fresh in Ottawa.’’
The abundance of young forwards the Lightning have developed in the past two seasons allowed Yzerman the opportunity to move one to acquire a need the team was going to have heading into the summer.
“We feel that Cory is good player, a talented guy and we really like him, but with Brett Connolly and what we have in the wings — Ondrej Palat, J.T. Brown, Richard Panik — kind of knocking on the doors, we can fill that spot with one of these young guys,’’ Yzerman said. “We felt like one of these young wingers, that we could afford to move in a deal.’’