Friday, June 26, 2015

Ottawa Senators Trade of Lehner: Analysis

The Ottawa Senators have traded forward David Legwand and goaltender Robin Lehner to the Buffalo Sabres in return for the 21st draft pick in the 2015 NHL draft, as reported by TSN.  With the Senators having three viable starting goaltenders, a trade of one was almost an inevitability.

Here's how the contracts of the three netminders the Senators had lined up:

  • Robin Lehner - Signed to a three-year contract in 2014, expiring in 2017.  Average annual value of $2.225 million; $1.5 million in 2014-15, $2.025 million for 2015-16 and $3.15 million in 2016-17
  • Craig Anderson -  Signed to a three-year extension in 2014, worth $12.6 million.  He was still under contract for one more year through 2014-15, with the extension kicking in for 2015-16 and going through 2017-18.  He will make $4.75 million for 2015-16 and 2016-17  and then $3.1 million in 2017-18.  
  • Andrew Hammond - Signed to a three-year extension in 2015, worth $4.05 million.  Hammond will be paid $1.35 million per season through 2017-18.  
With three goalies under contract at more than $1 million per season through at least 2016-17, there was very little doubt that one of them would be traded.  General Manager Bryan Murray didn't have much choice with the glut of talent in net, he knew a trade was imminent.  And he also knew he wouldn't be satisifed with what he got in return for one of his netminders.  

In the end, he had to give up not only a netminder, but also a durable forward who put up 27 points last season.  Now, what Murray got in return is nothing to sneeze at.  A first round draft pick in the NHL entry draft is a very valuable commodity. And again, Murray and the Sens did have a glut of goaltending.  

Whether Ottawa management knew that Andrew Hammond would turn into such a formidable goalie can be debated.  The statistics that Hammond put up for the Senators towards the end of the 2014-15 NHL season however, cannot be debated.  The 27 year-old put up a stellar 1.79 goals-against-average to go with a formidable .941 save percentage.  With that performance, and at the comparative salary rate he was going to get, how could Murray not ink him to an extension?

Now what the Senators do with the draft pick they received from Buffalo, the 21st overall selection, will go a long way in determining how good of a trade this turns out to be.  Recall two seasons ago that the New Jersey Devils traded their ninth overall draft pick in exchange for goaltender Cory Schneider.  While the Devils have not been able to produce on offense as they would like to, Schneider's performance has continued to be strong since the trade.  And Vancouver, while settling a goaltender "controversy" with the trade, also gained a strong prospect in Bo Horvat (25 points in 68 NHL games with Vancouver).  

How this trade is viewed will ultimately be determined by the performance of the player Vancouver selects at number 21 overall, as happens with all player for draft pick trades.  One thing is in very little doubt however:  Murray had to make a goaltender trade.  

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