Moving Lehner makes sense if Senators want to win now
The future is now as far as Bryan Murray is concerned.
And that's why the Senators' GM wants to make the right move when it comes to the crowded crease.
Speaking during a press conference at the Canadian Tire Centre held largely to introduce goaltender Matt O'Connor, the talk quickly turned to what's going to happen next with the Senators' net. It looks like the focus is on trading goaltender Robin Lehner before the NHL entry draft.
After signing Andrew Hammond to a three-year, $4.05 million deal last month, the Senators have to make a decision on what to do with Lehner or veteran Craig Anderson because they aren't going to keep all three which means somebody is going to be thanked for their service.
Murray told the Sun Thursday seven teams have called on both of his goalies, but more have shown interest in Lehner. It's believed he'll fetch a bigger return which is why the 23-year-old is likely the one who is going to get moved when push comes to shove.
Murray continues to weigh the pros and cons of keeping either Anderson or Lehner. The reality is, if they want to compete for a playoff spot next year -- and Ottawa does -- then 34-year-old Anderson gives them a better chance.
"That's everything that we do in our business. In every situation we have to evaluate and hopefully, on some occasions anyway, make the right decision," Murray said. "Who is going to help us? We want to win now.
"There is no question we have to determine, do we have the material to win now? That's the whole process we're going through now. We've got the pro scouts coming in Monday and we'll spend the whole week talking about our team and other teams around the league.
"We'll determine where our needs are and who are the players we should keep around."
There's no question the market is heating up, which is good for Murray because he's dealing from a position of strength with depth and nobody demanding a move. Sources say the asking price for Lehner is a good, solid, young player in return and a pick in the top two rounds.
"I've had quite a number of calls actually," Murray said. "There's some real interest by a number of teams that don't have the depth that we have, that are looking for an NHL goaltender. We'll just have to filter through them as we're doing now and try to get a deal that fits for the organization.
"We have identified and know the teams that are looking and that are serious about looking. Over the next week or two I'll probably get as good an offer as I'm going to get for it and I'm going to have to make a call at some point here and, hopefully, before the draft but it doesn't have to be then. It could be around training camp if that's what it leads to."
Murray would like to get something done as quickly as possible because he knows he can't keep all three happy.
"They're all goaltenders that are going to play in the NHL I can tell you that. Whether they're all in Ottawa (next year) I'm not sure about that," said Murray. "The one thing I know is you have to have a good goaltender.
"We have, we think, three or four now. The depth in the organization is going to only benefit us. Long-term, we'll have to make a decision because you can't play three in the NHL or three in the AHL. You can only play two guys and we'll have to make a decision and we will, probably before training camp, we'll have two NHL'ers to start with."
Of course, Murray would like to get a top six forward or top-end defenceman in return but noted that kind of deal may not be out there. He may try to make the bigger deal by moving a forward or blueliner to see if he can get immediate help but that decision hasn't been made.
"That's a good question and that's part of what we're negotiating right now," he said. "We have to make that determination if we have to sweeten the pot or not and if there's anybody in fact willing to give up a top six forward.
"The top four defenceman and the top six forward are hard commodities to get and usually you have to draft unless it's a cap situation and a veteran player you go make a deal for. At this point, anyway, we're going to look and get the best deal. If it's something other than a top six, we'll have to do it."
Stay tuned on this front.
THE ROBIN ODDS
Okay, these aren't the Bodog lines, but here's Bruce Garrioch's take on where The Lehner could end up.
- BUFFALO SABRES: GM Tim Murray was part of the team that drafted Lehner in Round 2 in 2009. He could grow with a young team. 2/1
- EDMONTON OILERS: GM Peter Chiarelli needs a goalie bad and has contacted the Senators. He has the assets to do it. 5/1
- SAN JOSE SHARKS: They need to win now which means it's highly doubtful that GM Doug Wilson would go this route. Low level interest. 50/1
- ST. LOUIS BLUES: Stranger things have happened but Lehner likely isn't a fit on a team that needs stability in the net. 100/1
- CALGARY FLAMES: They only have Jonas Hiller under contract next season and have made a pitch for Lehner. They may have the young assets to do a deal. 10/1
Which goalie should the Senators trade?