The Ottawa Senators have never been in a situation like this before: There appears to be an abundance of NHL-ready goaltending talent in the franchise. The one thing that's missing, though, is the NHL.
An extended work stoppage would not help the team's goaltending situation; a cancelled season would be even worse. While Craig Anderson is playing in practices and scrimmages, the workout he gets pales in comparison to actual NHL game action. Finding a contract with a European team at this point will be next to impossible due to the limitations of the roster spot he's looking for; they've almost all got goaltenders inked to deals. It's possible for him to find something, but a lot of pieces would have to fall into place.
Meanwhile, Ben Bishop is tending the net opposite to Anderson in the Sens' team-based lockout workouts, but he's got one more choice: He can, hypothetically, sign an AHL contract thanks to his experience in the league last season. (I'm not sure how the eligibility thing works, but reports have indicated that Bishop can sign an AHL deal for the lockout.) That would at least get Bishop some up-tempo playing time, but what would it mean for the Sens' other goaltenders?
Forget about Marc Cheverie and Nathan Lawson for the time being. Cheverie was obviously signed as a capable guy for Elmira, while Lawson--who brings a decent amount of AHL experience--was penciled in as someone to compete in Binghamton. But it's Robin Lehner who the Senators organization is most interested in: He's young and has the makings of a terrific goaltender, and the team's invested heavily in his development since drafting him in 2009.
While there's no interest in gift-wrapping a roster spot for Lehner, there is an interest in seeing him play as much ice time as possible. His development has been somewhat stunted by the fact that, for various reasons (injuries, inconsistency, a terrible team in front of him), he's been unable to play a full season as a starting goaltender. Competition is a good thing, but even if Lehner emerges victorious in an AHL battle between him and Bishop, it hurts the latter prospect; what's good for one will, by necessity, hamper the other. It may, however, improve the odds that the B-Sens team finds success this season, which will certainly help the other blue-chip prospects on the team.
One option that may not be optimal but could still allow for the simultaneous development of our two top goaltending prospects: Have Bishop sign an AHL deal with a team other than the Binghamton Senators. It could end up hurting Ottawa in the long run (imagine Bishop stealing a playoff series against Binghamton and knocking all of Ottawa's prospects out of the post-season?), but it could be beneficial, as well. What do you think about that?
Finally, another goaltender-related question: Given that a full-season lockout would likely cancel the current year of any contracts and the pending free agency of Bishop, what happens if the whole NHL season is cancelled and Bishop doesn't play anywhere this year?
Ottawa Senators headlines:
- Mike Hoffman had another three-point night as the B-Sens wrapped up their pre-season with another win. (Press & Sun Bulletin)
- Before the above-mentioned game, the B-Sens assigned Danny New, Chris Wideman, and Brad Peltz to the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, while goalie Scott Greenham was released from his PTO. (BSens)
- After the above-mentioned game, Jakub Culek was assigned to Rimouski of the QMJHL. (BSens)
- The 6th Sens offered comments on two interviews on the weekend: Tim Murray and Randy Lee.
- Two more stops were added to the Tournée des joueurs charity tournament, featuring Guillaume Latendresse: Drummondville on Oct. 18 and Sorel-Tracy on Oct. 19. (QMI)
- Apparently insurance for Sidney Crosby's NHL contract--a necessity in order to play overseas--would be between $200-400k per month. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Dominik Hasek has retired again. (SB Nation)
- A full, regularly-updated list of NHLers who've signed in Europe for the lockout. (SB Nation)
- A pretty cool speculative piece about potential KHL expansion into North America. (Mile High Hockey)/