The Calgary Flames addressed one of their biggest needs at the 2016 NHL Draft by acquiring goaltender Brian Elliott in a trade with the St. Louis Blues.
While Elliott represents a significant upgrade between the pipes for the Flames, he wasn’t the only goaltender the team had its sights on, apparently. Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Ben Bishop says a trade that would have sent him to Calgary “was close.”
Joe Smith at the Tampa Bay Times delivered the scoop on near deal between the Lightning and Flames:
“It looked like for a little bit it was going to happen,” Bishop told the Tampa Bay Times Friday. “At kind of the last minute (the Flames) went out and got Elliott. It was close, but there was never… It wasn’t that close, obviously.”
How close was it? According to Bishop, negotiations had reached a point where his camp was working on a contract extension with the Flames before moving on to Elliott.
Elliott finished 2015-16 with an NHL-best .930 save percentage and helped the Blues to the Western Conference Final, but the organization ostensibly handed over No. 1 goaltender duties to Jake Allen following the June traded. Elliott is entering the final year of his current contract at a cool $2.5 million. Bishop, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, is also entering the final year of his current deal at $5.95 million.
Elliott’s bargain of a contract and the cost, the 35th overall pick and a 2018 conditional third-rounder, obviously made him an attractive target.
Bishop is set to join Team USA for training camp ahead of the World Cup of Hockey. Beyond that, there’s some uncertainty surrounding the 29-year-old’s status as the No. 1 guy in Tampa. The club signed 22-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy to a three-year, $10.5-million extension this summer, which could force GM Steve Yzerman to leave Bishop’s rights unprotected going into next June’s expansion draft.
Bishop appeared in 61 games with the Lightning in 2015-16 and finished with a 35-21-1 record to go with a 2.06 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.