Ottawa, Edmonton and Goaltending

Craig Anderson

The Ottawa Senators are looking to trade a goalie, as has been widely reported and would have been plainly obvious in any case to anyone paying even the tiniest bit of attention to the team. The Edmonton Oilers are looking to add a goalie, as has also been widely reported and would also be plainly obvious to anyone paying even the slightest attention.

What does seem to be becoming clearer is the Oilers’ likely target(s), as well as the likely cost of acquisition.

As everybody’s favourite dairy-carrying receptacle noted on Thursday, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun identified Ottawa backup goalie Robin Lehner as one of Edmonton’s target netminders. The same day, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported that from a Sens’ viewpoint keeping Anderson made sense because he gave the team it’s best chance to win in the present, and moving Lehner made sense because he was the likeliest to fetch a bigger return.

Lehner vs. Anderson

Robin Lehner

Why would the Oilers be looking at the untested Lehner rather than the far more proven Craig Anderson? The answer is pretty simple: Edmonton isn’t going to win the Stanley Cup next season. Good goaltending next year is important because it will allow the team to make forward strides, but if they don’t get good goaltending it isn’t going to cost them a Stanley Cup the way it might two or three years down the line.

Anderson is 34 years old and has three seasons left on his contract, the age 34, 35 and 36 seasons. He may continue to play well over that span; some goalies do and the Oilers have firsthand experience with one of the great recent exceptions to the rule, Dwayne Roloson.

However, for most goalies, turning 35 coincides with a collapse in performance. Work done on goalie aging curves suggests that the average ‘tender falls off a cliff right around that age. In Anderson’s case, even if he doesn’t fall off a cliff, it’s likely that each season will see a gradual reduction in his play.

Robin Lehner on the other hand is about to turn 24. He isn’t a sure thing and he’s coming off a difficult year, but he’s 6’5”, has an impressive minor-league and major-league resume and is a legitimate starting candidate. He’s already getting paid (two years left at $2.25 million) but not enough to break the bank. He’s less immediately interesting to me than Cam Talbot, but he’s also significantly younger and won’t be an unrestricted free agent when his current deal ends.

What would Lehner cost?

The Price of Acquisition

28-Jones-3

Via Garrioch:

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.

Garrioch’s “position of strength” view is one way to look at things, but not in my view the most realistic one. There are more potential starters than there are places to be a No. 1 goalie; assuming Antti Niemi lands somewhere there are probably two starting jobs open for Karri Ramo, Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth and the entirety of the NHL trade market, including Talbot and Eddie Lack and anyone else who might break free. It’s a buyers’ market.

Additionally, Ottawa is in the worst spot because they have little choice but to make a trade. Nobody may be asking out, but it’s a cinch that the Senators don’t want to go into next season with three goalies on their NHL roster; it’s always a difficult situation to manage and it dramatically reduces a team’s flexibility.

In other words, everybody knows that the Senators will be making a trade and everybody with any sense knows that there are going to be plenty of other options on the market besides whichever goalie Ottawa sets free.

Despite this, I don’t doubt that the initial asking price is in the range Garrioch describes. Ottawa was in a similar position a few years back with Ben Bishop and eventually dealt him to Tampa Bay for forward Cory Conacher and a fourth-round draft pick. Edmonton was in the mix on that deal, too, with Postmedia suggesting that the Oilers offered Ryan Jones and a second-round pick and Elliotte Friedman offering a more elaborate story a few months later:

I’ve always wondered how close Edmonton came to getting Ben Bishop, currently standing tall in Tampa Bay’s goal. The Lightning got him from the Senators for Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick. From what I understand, the Oilers offered a second-rounder, a third-rounder and Ryan Jones. The issue? That second-rounder was Anaheim’s, which turned out to be 56th overall and Ottawa wanted Edmonton’s original spot, which was 37th. It sounds like the deal fell apart when the Albertans wouldn’t do it.

At the time of the deal, Conacher was a 23-year-old forward with 24 points in 35 games. Tampa Bay sold high; a year later Conacher would end up in Buffalo after being waived by the Sens and he’s since found his way back to the AHL.

But we can probably look at the Bishop deal as the Sens’ reference point for this trade. I suspect they’ll have more difficulty commanding that kind of return over the summer than they did at the trade deadline in 2013; my guess is they’ll eventually end up having to settle for something in the second-round range but we’ll see what happens.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Johnnydapunk

    It’s just going to depend on what priorities the Oil decide on, if they go after stud Defencemen, then goaltending isn’t too pressing, but if they do not go that way, then they need a proper goalie. There are options to be had, Rämö could be reasonable, Niemi may be a bit pricey and I’m not sure how he would do with porous defence.

    Heck I would even consider Bachman as a backup and a proper starter and see if Scrivens can be traded for assets as he is just too streaky and inconsistent.

  • CapeBretonOilers

    Mark Spector of Sportsnet wrote that any of the Ducks d-men except Hampus Lindholm is available for the right price.

    What would we pay to acquire Cam Fowler (3 years left at $4 million) ?

    • a lg dubl dubl

      Remember him sitting there at the draft sliding down, down down after being predicted to go 3 at the latest? The thing that bothered me the most at the time was that the Rangers (I believe with the 9th pick)drafted a goon while Fowler was sitting there in tears. There is no way that a deal with New York couldn’t have been made for a pick that they were seemingly throwing away. Fix it now, make a deal and bring Cam in.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        Yes, and he dropped all the way to #12 for Anaheim. What a travesty. Would love to get him, maybe even in a package with Gibson to make the cost more palatable.
        Although he is a Left shot D of which we have lots.

        Would Eberle for Fowler + negotiating rights to pending UFA Belesky + Gibson be realistic ?

        • Johnnydapunk

          Nope.

          Maybe Eberle (4 years left a 6m)for Fowler might work. The Ducks look to be losing Bilesky so they might interested in some scoring punch. Oil might even need to sweeten the deal.

          • Ask yourself, would you move Hall for the same return? I know I wouldn’t. So how can you move the more productive of the two? Eberle has provided the oilers with more offense than Hall since their careers started and it is because he stays healthy. If you move one of the 5 most offensively productive RW’s in the league, then you better be getting back one of the 16 best dmen in the league.

  • About time we talked ottawa, been saying all along Eric Gryba and Lehner for (pitts) pick and a prospect. throw in a 2016 3rd rd if neccessary. Upgrades the goal and includes a very good Defensive right shot Dman, something this team sorely lacks in and needs more than a Off. Dman. That would be a great start on fixing the D.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I would further add to Zarny’s point, that Gibson was the better goalie last playoffs and became the starter for that same Anaheim team.

    Yes they lost, but it was far from Gibsons fault. If they Oilers could pry him from Anaheim I would be shocked. Bob Murray isn’t stupid. It would take something substantial.

  • Zarny

    @Quicksilver ballet

    Once again with the false logic.

    No, Andersen isn’t the household name that Quick and Lundqvist are. He’s only 25. Neither Quick nor Lundqvist were household names at 25 either. Quick was busy getting bounced in the 1st round while Lundqvist at least made it to round 2. And both “came out of nowhere” just like Andersen.

    And fair enough, a 27 y/o Talbot and 25 y/o Jones posted better SV% than a 21 y/o. Should they get a cookie.

    And it’s certainly possible a 27 y/o Talbot and 25 y/o Jones are better than a 21 y/o Gibson. Once again though, when Talbot and Jones were 21 they hadn’t even gotten a sniff of the NHL yet. Gibson is miles ahead of both in terms of development and has more talent than either.

    You see, unlike Talbot or Jones, when Gibson is 25-27 y/o he’ll be an undisputed starter in the NHL. And he’ll have a lot more than 34 and 57 games played.

    I think Talbot and Jones are both really good options, but quit pretending that they’ve proven anything. Scrivens had a 0.931 SV% in LA.

    Talent matters and Gibson might have more than Talbot and Jones combined.

  • SKOilFan

    Canucks are shopping Lack straight up for a second round pick. I’d rather trade for him than give in to what Murray thinks he should get for Lehner. Player of top six potential and a high draft pick? I hope nobody trades with Ottawa for a goalie at that price, although I’m not exactly sure how “high” of a pick Murray wants. If I’m trading a high draft pick, it’s on Talbot, not Lehner