Ben Bishop and Patrick Marleau both are eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency and it's unclear if they have a place with their respective clubs.
Entering 2016-17, the future is uncertain for Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop and San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau. Both are eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency and it remains to be seen if they have a place in the long-term plans of their respective clubs.
Bishop, 29, is considered among the league's elite goalies. He was a finalist last season for the Vezina Trophy, backstopping the Lightning to the 2015 Stanley Cup final and the 2016 Eastern Conference final.
Marleau, who turns 37 on Sept. 15, is entering his 19th NHL season with the Sharks. With 25 goals and 48 points in 2015-16, he exceeded 44 points for the 16th time and 20 goals for the 13th time. He also helped the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time in franchise history.
The Lightning's limited salary cap space beyond 2016-17, the need to re-sign key forwards Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin and competition from promising goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy will affect Bishop's future in Tampa Bay. For Marleau, his age and recent decline in production could lead to his potential departure from San Jose.
NBC Sports' Mike Halford observes Bishop was linked to the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars in this summer's trade rumor mill. However, he believes the Lightning will retain Bishop through 2016-17, as their chances of winning the Stanley Cup this season are better if he's splitting the goaltending duties with Vasilevskiy.
Should Vasilevskiy outplay Bishop this season, the Bolts could entertain offers for the latter near the trade deadline. Of course, that will depend upon their roster needs by that point. Even then, trading him won't be easy. Bishop's carrying a $5.9-million salary-cap hit this season and a full no-movement clause. If he wants to finish the season with the Lightning, there's little they can really do about it.
If Bishop is willing to accept a trade later this season, there's no certainty the Lightning will get a solid return for him. Given his UFA status, he'll be considered a rental player. Interested parties won't want to part with much to get him.
As Halford points out, teams like the Flames and Stars could prefer waiting until next summer to pursue Bishop via free agency. He'll be expensive to sign, probably costing over $7 million annually on a long-term deal, but those clubs won't have to pony up player assets to get him.
Halford's colleague Joey Alfieri points out Marleau was the subject of trade chatter last fall. At one point, he submitted a three-team list of preferable trade destinations to Sharks management.
Ultimately, the Sharks decided to keep him. That's probably because those destinations were believed to be the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.
Marleau has a $6.66-million cap hit with a full no-movement clause. If management decides to shop him later this season, he'll have to widen his list of trade options. To re-sign with the Sharks, Alfieri suggests Marleau must either have a strong bounce-back performance or accept a significant pay cut.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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