Our NHL and AHL goalies are really making me comfortable for our future as a team. It's funny how a solid lineup in one position alone can bring so much perceived solidity to a team. I haven't felt this good about the Sens in a while, and it's largely due to the fact that I'm not too worried about beach balls getting into the net.
That being said, now that we have 3 capable players at an NHL level, one would believe that means that we are going to have some personnel changes, as it's not realistic for us to carry 3 NHL level goalies for an NHL season.
Craig Anderson : Incumbent starter. Consistent, if not unremarkable. His numbers aren't amazing, but he certainly gets it done, and he has definitely won some games on his own for the Sens in his time here. Last season, he played 63 games, with a line of 33-22-6, 2.83 GAA and .914 save%. Not flashy. His GAA is .30 points over the league average and his save percentage is right on par. In all ways, Anderson is an AVERAGE starter in the NHL. He's signed for another 3 years, and could be pushed by one of our younger goalies for playing time.
Ben Bishop : Last year, he showed the AHL what he was made of, and it resulted in him being traded to us as a capable NHLbackup. Even though his numbers weren't amazing during his NHL stint in Ottawa (10 games,3-3-2, 2.48 GAA and .909 save %), I remember his play wasn't the main issue in those games. Each night, he made it possible for us to win the game at hand- only two of those games were bad games for him, and one of them was an 8-4 flurry of goals with Pittsburgh, and another was a bad game all around by the team against Montreal, resulting in him getting pulled after 2 goals in the first period. You've got to think that he'll be looking for consistent NHL playing time after this contract, which could make him a valuable trade chip if the season ever rolls around. Otherwise, he'll be a restricted free agent again when the next NHL season starts, and I would imagine that he'll prefer to play for another team and a full time NHL gig, which would really be a shame, since our prospects that follow Bishop and Lehner on the depth chart aren't ready for AHL playing time, let alone NHL time.
Lehner: The supposed heir to the Senators crease, Robin Lehner has had an up and down career in the AHL, and a strikingly consistent and stellar career in the NHL. Last year he played 5 games, 3-2, 2.01 GAA and .935 save %. The games were against Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Florida and the Islanders. He played very well in 4 of those games ( lost to Chicago 2-1 despite saving 39 shots) and had one dud, letting in 4 goals to the Panthers. It's quite clear how much better his numbers are in the NHL, and he's proving that he can do it over a longer run of games in the AHL this year. Other than his temper, the main thing that Lehner had to work on was consistency in on critical games. He excelled in the AHL playoffs when the B-Sens won the Calder Cup, but all of that year and the following year, he was struggling to play at a high level day in and day out, and lost his starting job to Mike McKenna. His current numbers in the AHL are 12 GP, 8-2, 1.63 GAA, .950 Save %. Quite Stellar if I do say so myself.
Where does this leave us?
As the NHL season seems to be very unlikely to take place (my opinion, obviously not fact... but it's getting close), I would imagine that Bishop will get traded during the offseason for greener pastures, and a chance to play in the NHL full time. I say he'll get traded, because as a restricted free agent, he'll still be under team control. It seems quite straightforward that we would sign him to a qualifying offer at least, and keep him for another year, but you never know. If for some reason the NHL can get its act together and start the season, I can see Bishop staying with the Sens for the year and serving as a backup to Andy, unless the Sens are far out of contention, in which case he could get traded. What would we get in return? We traded a second round pick for him, and I would imagine his value would have increased after an extra year of solid play in the AHL. I would love to package him with one of our up and coming wingers in order to upgrade our current scoring wingers.
HOPEFULLY we'll have hockey in September, and by that point in time, if Lehner was able to put an entire year under 2.3 GAA and over .920 Save % (arbitrary numbers on my part, but this would put him around NHL league average) under his belt in the AHL, I'd be quite comfortable with him sharing time with Andy during the 2013-2014 season.
What do you think? What does the Senators goalie situation look like to you in the coming year and beyond?
Yes this is a longer Fanpost, and Yes, I'm getting bored out of my mind without NHL hockey. My roommate and I have started simulating games in NHL 13 and watching them, to get a semblance of NHL hockey. We've even gone to see the MARLIES play. Yep. THAT desperate.