The Ottawa Senators didn't drastically change much on the roster this off-season, with the exception of their goalie situation. Surprisingly, the Sens won the coveted Matt O'Connor sweepstakes, signing the free-agent goalie to a two-year entry-level contract.
With that single signing, management would set themselves up for some serious decision making during the summer. Ultimately, it resulted in them sending Robin Lehner to the Buffalo Sabres and re-writing the goalie future as we knew it.
But it's not like the Sens were left with nothing at the end of that trade. There is a reason Matt O'Connor was so highly regarded by a number of NHL teams. In his final year at Boston University, O'Connor played 35 games, with a 2.18 GAA, .927 SV% and a 25-4-4 record. It may have helped that he had Jack Eichel on his team, but these numbers are impressive. Not to mention, he helped the team to the NCAA title game.
After finishing up his very successful season with Boston, O'Connor wasted little time in signing with the Ottawa Senators. Despite being highly sought after by many NHL teams, O'Connor chose Ottawa. Something Sens fans are not all that used to hearing. But make no mistake, he's not rushing into the NHL. O'Connor made is clear that he wants to take his time and get used to the pro-level game with the Binghamton Senators.
"As a goalie, you need time to develop your pro game and I would definitely picture myself in Binghamton," O'Connor said. "I'm not one to come into an organization and demand games or expect promises because the bottom line is, it's about stopping the puck.
"I think in my development path I can develop a lot in the (AHL) and that's a big opportunity for me to develop my game and go when I'm ready. As a goalie, you want to go when you're ready and you want the organization to have you play when you're ready. I definitely would expect to start in Binghamton next year."
~ Courtesy of Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun
Who can blame him? Looking at the goalies who have come through the Binghamton Senators system, it's easy to see why a goaltender would choose to play here: Ray Emery, Brian Elliott, Ben Bishop, Robin Lehner and more recently Andrew Hammond. Clearly, O'Connor feels that he will get the guidance and development he needs with Binghamton.
More recently, O'Connor was ranked 22nd among NHL Goalie Prospects by InGoal Magazine. The fact that he went undrafted, combined with his "late bloomer" status may have hurt his ranking. But whatever questions remain around O'Connor's ability as a goalie will soon be answered when he starts to play at the AHL level.
So while it's very unlikely that we'll see O'Connor with the big club anytime soon, rest assured the organization is going to do whatever it takes to make him a successful goalie in the NHL. At this point, they really don't have a choice. He is our new goalie of the future, after all.
If you haven't seen much of Matt O'Connor, take a look at his highlight reel from Boston University.