Buffalo Sabres: Family Connection Could Help Search for New Goaltender


Buffalo Sabres: Family Connection Could Help Search for New Goaltender

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During the past two seasons, the Buffalo Sabres have traded away Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth. No matter how you look at it, the main priority has to be to find a new starting goaltender.

As it stands, the Sabres only have Chad Johnson on the roster. Ironically, he injured his ankle after being traded to Buffalo in March, and has yet to play for the team.

Fortunately for Sabres fans, they will be happy to hear Tim Murray is focused on bringing in a new goaltender. The General Manager confirmed this at First Niagara Center, during Buffalo’s pre-draft news conference.

Murray was speaking to the media, including Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News: “The basic plan is we have to get a goalie, that’s for sure.

Dec 12, 2013; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) during warmup prior to game against Buffalo Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s a moving plan….We would love to trade for a ‘youngish’ goalie. If that doesn’t work, we would trade for a real good short-term goalie who is older.

“If we could sign the best or second-best free agent goalie, we would be happy with that too. We’re working it every day.”

The question is, who should the Sabres be looking at, when trying to find a new goaltender to lead the way? Due to a family connection, the answer could well lie in Ottawa.

The Ottawa Senators GM is Bryan Murray, who just so happens to be Tim Murray’s uncle. Adding further intrigue, the Senators also have a couple of potential answers for between the pipes.

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As Harrington reported, the Senators GM confirmed he is ready for trade talks: “People have been going team to team and have been seeing what the price is to get a goaltender.

“All I’ve said to each one of them is, ‘If you want the best one, you better call Ottawa, because we have the best guy to trade’ and I sincerely believe that.”

The guy Murray is referring to is Craig Anderson, who lost his starting role to Andrew Hammond last season. However, don’t mistake this for believing that Anderson is no longer effective.

While last season wasn’t his best, the Park Ridge, Illinois native was still reasonably productive. He started 35 games and went 14-13-8, while finishing with a 2.49 GAA, which was actually an improvement on his previous campaign (3.00).

One stumbling block could be the 1999 third round draft pick’s age. At 34-year’s old, Anderson would not be a long-term answer.

Dec 10, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a stick save against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Another aspect to consider is the financial implications. The 2015-16 season will signal the start of a three-year $12.6 million contract extension, which Anderson signed last summer.

This is not to say the Sabres should dismiss the 13-year NHL veteran altogether. However, his teammate Robin Lehner may be a better alternative.

In fact – according to reports – all indications are that the Senators would ideally prefer to trade Lehner. The main negative in respect of the 23-year old is his lack of top-level experience – to date, he has only played 86 games, and has a 30-36-13 record.

Regardless, there is no denying the potential of Lehner, who is renowned for using his size (6ft 4 & 224 lbs) to his advantage. As a butterfly-style goaltender, he is also surprisingly mobile, with good lateral movement.

Whoever, the Sabres opt to go for, they shouldn’t expect a discount, despite the family connection between the two franchises. Rumors indicate the Senators are looking for a top-six forward and a draft pick in return for one of their goaltenders. (The Sabres have the 21st overall draft selection, which could prove to be extremely useful.)

And that’s not all, as per a report from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. Apparently, the Sens also want to include David Legwand or Colin Greening in any potential trade.

Overall, there are no guarantees the Sabres will find a solution in Ottawa, but it certainly can’t hurt for Murray to at least take his uncle out for a meal, (as any good nephew should do). After all, who knows where the conversation may lead?