The Dallas Stars acquired the rights to goaltender Ben Bishop in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in a proactive play to fill their biggest offseason need.
Dallas agreed to send a fourth-round pick in June's draft to Los Angeles for the exclusive negotiating rights to Bishop, a pending unrestricted free agent and the most accomplished name on a loaded open market for goalies.
The Stars' precipitous plunge from Western Conference number one seed to NHL bottom feeder this past season was largely attributed to the poor play of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, who split time in the crease as the club allowed the second-most goals in the NHL.
To address the issue, they found a logical trade partner in the Kings, who happened to have spare Vezina Trophy-calibre talent on hand.
The draft pick headed to Los Angeles, via the Montreal Canadiens, is condition-free regardless of whether the Stars are able to sign Bishop before the July 1 cutoff.
The three-time All-Star spent parts of the last five seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning until he was dealt to the Kings at this year's trade deadline as insurance for regular starter Jonathan Quick, who at the time was recovering from a groin injury that cost him 59 games. Bishop made just six starts down the stretch as Los Angeles missed the playoffs.
Dean Lombradi, the Kings' since-fired general manager, was known to have an interest in re-signing Bishop, but the new braintrust of Luc Robitaille and Rob Blake balked at committing top dollar to another goalie with Quick already under contract through the 2022-23 season.
The 30-year-old Bishop was making $5.95million in the final year of his deal and is said to be seeking a raise.
Battling injury and splitting time with Andrei Vasilevskiy and Quick, Bishop appeared in 39 games last season - his lowest total since becoming a full-time starter in 2013 - and finished the year with a 2.54 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
The Stars, with more than $10m committed to Niemi and Lehtonen in 2017-18, will need to do some salary cap restructuring to lock up Bishop long term, but the deal seems to be a perfect fit for both sides.