Friday, January 18, 2013

Mo Goalies, Mo Problems

It isn't a problem many will have too much sympathy for, it's like being too good looking or too rich, but at the moment, having too much goalie talent is just that. The media and fans have said that it's a good problem to have and to an extent that's true, but a problem is never a good thing, even when it's this type of scenario. That's why it's called a problem after all.

So far, all three of the netminders involved in the playing time triangle are all saying the right things, which is nice and expected, but deep down I'm sure all three are feel deserving of being with the big club this season, and you know what, none of them are wrong. It's great to be a good teammate and all of those other tired cliches, but if any of them were satisfied with not being #1 I'd be worried.

Due to his solid play since the day he arrived as a Sen, which was a 47 save shutout performance in Toronto by the way, Anderson has been the teams starting goalie. It's a title that he earned and a title he hasn't really played himself out of, so why are we even having this discussion? The reason is youth is king, and Anderson is now 31. Now that's not to say 31 is old, in fact for an NHL goalie it's about the time you tend to peak, as many goalies play into their late 30's quite routinely now. But you know what's better than a 31 year old goalie? A 26 year old one (Bishop) or a 21 year old one (Lehner), who have both been widely regarded as two of the best up and coming goalies in the AHL for several seasons.

Another reason we're having this debate lately is because while Anderson can be spectacular at times, he isn't considered an elite goalie in the NHL. He can go on runs with stretches of brilliance which makes you think he might be, but he also can be prone to some very bad goals and sub par games that reminds you why he's on his 4th NHL team in his career. He's basically a poor man's elite goalie, if you don't have one of those franchise changing type netminders. He's an average/slightly above average NHL goalie that can go on a run and provide solid goaltending for a team that doesn't need someone to steal games every night. As a result, he's also paid accordingly (3.187,500 for this year and 2 more seasons), which makes him very attractive to many teams around the league who could use some help in that department.

Now focusing on Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner for a second, we have 2 more than capable goalies at the NHL level, with one (Lehner) having already lead our farm team in Binghamton to the AHL Championsip 2 years ago, all before his 20th birthday. They both want to play at the highest level, so how long before one of them is unsatisfied to the point of asking to be dealt?

Then there's the contract situation. Bishop has the inside track on the backup job simply because he has a one way contract, while Lehner has a 2 way deal at the moment. The Sens are currently in very delicate position because Bishop is only signed for this year and they want to keep him happy so he re-signs and they don't lose a valuable asset for nothing. But they don't want to make it seem like they don't care about Lehner either, because he could very easily be a future franchise goalie.

One of the many realities of hockey is it's a business, and the players want to earn as much money as possible, something we can all relate to. Regardless of where he ends up playing, Ben Bishop will make 650k this season. Robin Lehner's situation however, is a bit different. If he makes the NHL roster he will earn 900k, but if he is sent back to Binghamton, he will only make 67.5k, or roughly 13 times less. It's a wage that many people who pay to see him play will make more than. It has to be a factor in him wanting to be in the NHL and I can't blame him for that, it's a huge discrepancy in salary. Lehner thought he was ready to be in the NHL last year after leading Bingo to the title and he is tearing up the AHL this season, so by his play alone he deserves the nod, but what do you do? No matter what the answer someone is going to be upset.

It seems that the most likely scenario is the Sens staying with Anderson as their starter with Bishop backing him up and Lehner heading back to the AHL. It's the easiest move for the organization to make at the moment, at least until Bishop signs a new contract anyways.

One of the more popular rumors kicking around is the Sens dealing Anderson for a defenceman and going with the youth movement tandem of Lehner and Bishop, which would cost us all of 1.55 million combined this year. This is a move I can get behind and it's no slight against Anderson either, but between Bishop and Lehner I feel they could more than adequately provide the same type of goaltending, with a big possibility of one or both of them becoming a legit top 10 starter in the league eventually, with Lehner specifically possibly becoming the young, elite goalie this franchise has craved for 21 years now.

Can you see Anderson leading us to a championship? I'm not so sure many would say yes, but with Lehner I can see him pushing us over the top to seriously compete for Lord Stanley for years. He may have to wait another year but if it were me I'd give him his shot this year. He's earned it. But that's just me.

Thanks for reading and be sure to give me a follow on twitter for all your Sens news @SensTown

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