Buffalo Sabres: Is the Robin Lehner Trade a Good Move?


Buffalo Sabres: Is the Robin Lehner Trade a Good Move?

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Once the NHL lottery was finished, there was no intrigue in respect of who the Buffalo Sabres would take with the second pick in the 2015 NHL draft. As such, most fans were more interested in what the Sabres would do with the 21st pick in the first round.

As the draft grew closer, there were various rumblings about Buffalo potentially trading their 21st pick for a goaltender. In particular, certain sources predicted a possible deal with the Ottawa Senators, for either Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner.

In some respects, this made sense. Apart from the fact the Sabres needed a goalie, there was the family connection between Buffalo’s General Manger Tim Murray and his counterpart in Ottawa, who just happened to be his uncle.

When we reported this potential trade earlier this week the response was not favorable, with 57% of our audience saying the Sabres should look elsewhere. However, as we now know, Buffalo did make a deal, trading their 21st pick for Lehner and David Legwand.

Dec 29, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Robin Lehner (40) speaks with right wing Bobby Ryan (6) during warmup prior to game against the Buffalo Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The question is, does this represent a good move by the Sabres? If you base it purely on recent players selected 21st in the NHL draft, the answer appears to be yes.

However, to get a better idea, we need to look at what Lehner offers the franchise. For the record, it should be noted that 36% of our readers were in favor of the 23-year old, as opposed to the 7% who wanted Anderson.

For his part, Murray is happy with the move, as he told wgr550.com: “Robin was our target – he was the No. 1 goalie available from our estimation.

“I think he’s a number one goalie and when I talk about guys that are a starter, I mean on a good team. I saw it at 19 years old and he has shown he can win and he has shown he has a desire to be the best.”

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So, what does Lehner bring to the team? The main thing is that word that can be construed as either a positive or a negative, depending on your perspective – potential.

I’m going to take the positive approach in respect of this. Lehner has good size (6ft 5 and 225 lbs), which he uses to his advantage.

He is known for his butterfly-style approach to goaltending. On top of this, he is surprisingly mobile, with good lateral movement.

However, we also have to be objective. In that respect, the biggest negative against the Gothenburg, Sweden native is his lack of experience.

To date, Lehner has played 86 games in the NHL. He has a record of 30-36-13, with a GAA of 2.88 and a save percentage of .914.

If Buffalo are looking for any positive signs, they should look no further than the 2011 AHL playoffs, when he led the Senators minor league team to the Calder Cup. As John Vogl of The Buffalo News wrote, Lenher went 14-4, with a .939 save percentage.

Overall, all Sabres fans can do is wait to see how this trade will pan out for the team. From a salary cap perspective, it’s worth noting the 2009 46th overall draft pick is going into the second year of a three-year $6.675 million contact.