Breaking: Ben Bishop To Tampa For Conacher, 4th

The Ottawa Senators have acquired forward Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for goaltender Ben Bishop. 

After a strong collegiate hockey career, Conacher signed one-year contract with Norfolk in July 2011. His 39 goal, 41 assist effort earned him AHL MVP honours in 2011/12, as well as a two-year entry level deal with Tampa Bay. This season his 24 points trail only Jonathan Huberdeau's 25 in the rookie scoring race. Oh and he's also listed at 5’8”, 175lbs.

On the surface, it looks like a huge win for the Senators and for Robin Lehner. (And as a minor sub-story to the trade, I would that this trade means that Craig Anderson has been cleared to play.) Lehner officially becomes a NHL regular with this move. My heart goes out to all of you Binghamton Senators fans who were hoping that Robin would be reassinged shortly.

But obviously, that's not going to happen now. 

Averaging only 2.42 goals per game, the Senators certainly can use whatever offence he can provide. Of the teams currently holding playoff seeds, only the New Jersey Devils (2.42, tied with Ottawa) and San Jose (2.34) boast similar or worse rates.

There inevitably is going to be some skepticism whether Conacher’s production levels are sustainable or whether he’s just beneficiary of some quality linemates – a Brandon Bochenski if you will. I mean, it's not like Conacher is a phenom relative to his age, how much his game can still grow is anyone's guess.

Aside from playing 40% of his even-strength minutes with Stamkos, I can’t help but allude to a number of other factors which help explain Conacher’s production:

– Amongst Tampa forwards who have played in 20 or more games this season, Conacher has played against the second easiest competition.

– His has a shooting percentage of 17.0%, scoring 9 goals on 53 shots.

– He has the fifth-highest offensive zone start percentage on the team at 54.3%.

– When on the ice at 5v5, he and his teammates have an on-ice shooting percentage of 10.41%.

Yet, despite these benefits and the fact that he plays with alongside an elite player like #91, Conacher's possession metrics aren't exactly fantastic. It's a cause for concern and something that should weigh on the minds of Senators fans who might see this as a can't-miss homerun. 

Now none of this is to say that Conacher cannot be a good player or become better than he currently is. The guy is clearly a skilled player who has produced at every level. He could offset any regression he experiences in his shooting percentage by shooting the puck more than he currently does, for example. On the other hand, for as much as you or I can say that Steve Yzerman possibly sold high on Conacher, the same argument can be made about Bryan Murray selling on Ben Bishop.

Minutes after the trade Conacher spoke with TSN:

Is it too early to start projecting lines for 2013/14?

Michalek – Spezza – Silfverberg

Conacher – Turris – Alfredsson

Hoffman – Zibanejad – Condra

Greening – Smith – Neil

That's depth.

Update 5:50pm

Pierre Lebrun just revealed on TSN that Edmonton's offer was Ryan Jones and a draft pick, and that Ottawa had asked for Couturier from Philadelphia…which considering some of Holmgren's moves of late is not such a crazy ask.

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