Goalie Decisions Loom

SensChirp March 22, 2013 0

In a year where injuries have ravaged the Ottawa Senators line up, the team has managed to stay afloat thanks to lights out goaltending from the three headed monster in the crease.

Before his injury, Craig Anderson was on his way to a Vezina type season.  Since he’s gone down, both Ben Bishop (2.62 GAA, .921 save %) and Robin Lehner (1.92 GAA, .944 save %) have done an outstanding job making big stops for this hockey team and keeping them right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

General Managers will always tell you that you can never have too much depth and that has certainly been the case for Ottawa in goal.  It’s for that reason that Bryan Murray remains hesitant to pull off a trade involving one of his goalies.

I’ve read the discussion here on the site and there seems to be a surprising number of you that would be comfortable handing over the reins to a Lehner/Bishop duo full time and using Anderson as a piece in a trade.  That option obviously goes out the window with Anderson hurt but even if he was healthy, I really can’t see it.  Lehner is good, but I don’t know if I’m comfortable throwing him the keys just yet.  I also believe that with Anderson in net, and a healthy line up, this team is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender next season, so trading Anderson doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  This year, anyway.

Then you have Robin Lehner.  Last season, during an up and down campaign with Binghamton, and with questions about his attitude popping up, moving him actually seemed like a legitimate option.  But Lehner has refocused this year and has been terrific both in the American Hockey League and in his seven starts in the bigs.  The kid is the future in goal and moving him isn’t a realistic option.

When the Senators do decide to move a goalie, I’d be shocked if it wasn’t Ben Bishop.

Now the timeline for this decision isn’t as rushed as people may think.  While the team would obviously consider using depth at one position to address needs elsewhere, that type of deal hasn’t really come along as of yet.  Add to that the fact that Anderson’s status has been day to day for a month and you can see why Murray hasn’t yet pulled the trigger on something. 

Teams like Columbus, New Jersey, Edmonton and Calgary all seem to make sense for Bishop.  Bishop isn't under contract for next season but with one more start, will officially become a restricted free agent which helps the Senators. 

I’ve been told that the Philadelphia Flyers have shown interest and have been told that the asking price for Bishop is a 2nd and a roster player.  It seems like the Senators are set on getting back more than they received when they acquired Bishop from St. Louis.

For now, Ottawa can sit back and enjoy the ridiculous depth they have in between the pipes but eventually the time will come, either before the deadline or this off season, when Murray has to move one of his starter caliber goalies.

The most likely trade candidate remains Ben Bishop.

Meanwhile, Head Coach Paul MacLean indicated that Robin Lehner will be the starter against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon.  Both Sergei Gonchar and Marc Methot are expected to play.