Saturday the Ottawa Senators landed coveted college free agent goaltender Matt O'Connor to a two year entry level deal. This now means the Ottawa Senators have four, count them, four NHL goaltenders. Robin Lehner and Craig Anderson still have years left on their deals, and Andrew Hammond is set to be a UFA on July 1st. Sabres GM Tim Murray has his ties to Ottawa that always make rumors spark when the Sens and Sabres have a potential logical trade. The Sabres need a goalie, and the Sens have three with room for only one or two.
Craig Anderson is 33 years old. He likely has only a few good years left, which could be ideal for Buffalo. The Sabres have many goalies in the prospect system and one is likely to develop into a starter. By the time that goalie develops, Anderson will be on his way out. Anderson is still playing well at this stage in his career. Last season he had a save percentage of .923 in 35 games. That was top 10 in the NHL this season. Anderson will likely only want to play for a team he starts for. In Ottawa he'll have to do battle with the three other young guys. He would probably win the job, but he would have a short leash. The price to trade for Anderson would not be very high. Maybe a 3rd round pick and C level prospect, like a Vaclav Karabacek.
Robin Lehner has the highest value of the three. For many years he's been considered Ottawa's goaltender of the future. With the addition of Matt O'Connor and the teams interest to bring back Andrew Hammond, that may no longer be true. The former second round pick in 2009 has played well throughout his career, but has yet to show he can be a starter. Lehner is the most likely to be moved, considering Ottawa has already sought his value in the trade market. With recent concussion issues, Lehner's value is the lowest its ever been. Now is Tim Murray's time to pounce on the opportunity. Lehner is also listed a 6 foot 5, and we know Murray loves his big goalies. For Lehner I would definitely trade trade a 2nd round pick, and I believe that would get the trade done. It would be hard for Ottawa to get anymore than that for an unproven goalie with concussion issues. However, his potential is through the roof, and he will probably become a great starting goalie for some team.
Andrew Hammond is the one goalie Buffalo wouldn't have to trade for. If the Sabres get a shot at the Hamburglar, that means he did not resign with Ottawa. The Sabres have one thing other teams can't offer Hammond and that is a starting job. However, is he worthy of that? My answer would be no. We need to see more than a 24 game sample, as amazing as he may have been during. In all honesty it's hard to imagine the Sabres getting a shot at Hammond. He's likely to be resigned by Ottawa, and they won't trade him. Even if he did get to the open market, he's probably the worst of these three goalies.
The most likely scenario for Ottawa for next season would be: Craig Anderson as starter, Andrew Hammond as backup, and Matt O'Connor in the AHL, with Robin Lehner being traded. Other teams looking for a goaltender include Edmonton, Arizona, Minnesota (if they can't sign Dubnyk), and there are other teams out there that would want Lehner. Murray would have competition if he's interested. It's still for a goalie, so I would not overpay to make sure I get Lehner.