Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop almost came a member of the Calgary Flames in late-June, but a trade fell through after he was unable to come to terms on a contract extension with Calgary.
The Flames then acquired Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues, and Bishop has remained in Tampa.
Bishop, 30, can become an unrestricted free agent after this season and has been trying to block out the 'what ifs' and the uncertainty of where he'll end up playing next season.
"I'd be lying if I said I never thought about it, but that is only something that is going to distract you from your job so I try not to think about what is next," Bishop told LightningInsider.com's Erik Erlendsson. "I just try to worry about the next game because when you start to think about that other stuff is when your game gets out of whack, when you are thinking about something other than what you should be. I have done it in the past, so it's not a complete new thing to me. It's definitely there in the back of your head."
Bishop, who has posted an 8-10-1 record in 19 games with the Bolts so far this season, knows his numbers (2.86 goals-against-average, .906 save percentage) need to improve, especially if he wants to cash in on a major contract next summer.
The Denver-born netminder has sought advice from Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who went through last season without a contract extension and almost hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
"It's not easy on anybody, but at the same time you can't really think about it because it does no good to yourself or the team when you start to think about that type of stuff, especially in the situation we are in right now," Bishop said. "We have way more important things to think about. . . . I've have plenty of other things to think about. You know it's there, but it's not like I'm sitting at home thinking about it, I'm thinking about the next game, to be honest. You want to play well, you want to get out of this funk, so that's on my mind way more than anything else."