In the first what will likely be several minor moves surrounding the one major trade involving the Ottawa Senators, goaltender Alex Auld was traded to the Dallas Stars for a sixth-round draft choice (originally from San Jose) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Auld had an up-and-down season for the Senators in 2008-09, although his numbers were more up than down. Expect restricted free agent goaltender Brian Elliott to be re-signed in the near future, paving the way for Elliott and newcomer Pascal Leclaire to compete for the starting position in nets.
Although Auld's winning percentage (0.372) was nowhere near that of Elliott (0.516) last season, both his goals-against average and save percentage were much better. He came in as the acknowledged backup to Martin Gerber, but quickly took over as the starter when Gerber faltered, giving the Senators their only strong goaltending of the first half of the season. Elliott eventually was recalled from Binghamton of the AHL, and gave Ottawa some very strong goaltending, until Auld once again took over as the starter and started five of six games in April, going 3-1-1 in that stretch.
|2008 - Alex Auld||43||2449||16||18||7||7||101||2.47||1141||1040||.911||1|
Auld didn't come into the season with lofty expectations, although many expected him to usurp Gerber quickly as the starting goaltender--and rather quickly, as happened. The expectation from Auld was that he would be a good contingency plan for short stretches, and he fulfilled that role to a tee. Considering his contract was about as close as one can get to no-risk in the NHL, at two years for $1M each, makes this signing an astute one at the hands of Bryan Murray. Although Auld will not likely be complimented by the fact that he was traded for a sixth-round draft pick, the decision was more one of numbers than a reflection of his play this past season.
Heading into Dallas, Auld won't have as strong an opportunity to take the reins as a starting goaltender because he'll be sitting behind Marty Turco. But Dallas fans, or at least Brandon Worley and the commenters over at Defending Big D, seem to be giving the move a thumbs up:
"Auld is a big, confident goaltender who has spent time as both a starter and a backup during stints with Vancouver, Florida, Phoenix, Boston and Ottawa. At the age of 28, he's appeared in 183 NHL games with a 2.76 GAA and .905 save percentage for his career. He's worked with both Andy Moog and Marc Crawford before and will be a good goaltender to push Marty Turco during the season. More importantly, he gives the Dallas Stars options for the future. Yesterday I wrote about how next season the goaltender position for the Stars is up in the air. Turco is scheduled to become a free agent and it's highly doubtful that the Stars goalie prospects would be near ready to make the jump the NHL next season."
It seemed unlikely the Senators were going to receive much in return for Auld, but this trade is still a positive one for the Senators. It clears up what was previously a traffic jam at the goaltending position, enables the signing of Elliott to possibly his first one-way NHL contract, and clears up (possibly) a bit of salary cap space.
What are your thoughts on the Auld trade, and on the big goaltender's short tenure in Ottawa?