The Buffalo Sabres paid a large price for their new starting goaltender, Robin Lehner, and Sabres GM Tim Murray met with the media this afternoon to give his thoughts on the trade for Lehner and David Legwand and the price paid to acquire both.
Murray started by praising Lehner's ability and potential, calling him their #1 goaltending target and saying, "He's a talented, big, strong young man who is just scratching the surface. Hopefully, we can bring the best out of him." Should Dan Bylsma choose to keep Arturs Irbe as goalie coach next year, that would certainly be a step in the right direction into turning Lehner into a bona fide starter.
Murray also seemed to value Lehner's age and contract situation. Lehner is only 23 years old and has two years left on his contract before becoming an RFA, giving the Sabres control of his future for many years to come. "If he was 27, 28 years old, I probably would have taken a step back. He's young. He fits what we're trying to do."
Tim Murray says he would've thought someone was on mushrooms if they told him he'd get Eichel, Kane and Lehner for his three first-rounders.— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) June 26, 2015
As for the price paid, Murray balked at those who say he paid too much, saying, "I know we're going to hear that we paid too much. Every trade I've made we've paid too much. I get that. I don't agree. " The Sabres giving up pick 21 stung many fans this morning, but Murray tried to ease the pain, explaining, "Are we gonna get the exact same player at 31 as 21? Probably not. Are we gonna get a guy that's comparable...that can become a real good player? We believe that."
"Can you not tell how excited I am? I'm legitimately excited -- and I don't say that very often." -Tim Murray— Chris Ryndak (@ChrisRyndak) June 26, 2015
As for Legwand, Murray was very short with his answers, leaving things up to Bylsma on how best to use the aging forward. "He was part of the deal, take it or leave it."
In addition to Murray's comments, we also reached out to our Senators blog Silver Seven Sens, and one of their writers, B_T, shared his thoughts on the newest Sabres acquisitions.
Brad: Robin Lehner has a great ability to read a shot and position accordingly, as well as making the athletic save when he needs to. His puck handling is solid too. He's got all the fundamentals as well as the athleticism and conditioning, he just hasn't been able to put it all together consistently at the NHL level. At 23, very few goalies have managed to do that. His competitive drive is off the charts, and he thrives in higher pressure situations such as the Calder Cup run in 2011. He seems to play his best when he has something to prove.
One down side I think is he can sometimes be slow getting back into position when drawn out of the net, requiring him to make the athletic save where another tender might have been able to make the easy save. He has come a long way on the maturity front, but still has the occasional angry outburst. He's also appeared to have some trouble adjusting to having a shorter stick after the goalie equipment rules started being enforced more strictly.
The concussion is a concern as well, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's a big concern since he's only had the one that we know of. The longer recovery doesn't mean much with concussions, evaluating those is even more voodoo than evaluating goaltenders.
Overall, I think the Sabres got the Ottawa goaltender with the best mix of current and future skill.
Legwand... well, he's an overpaid depth player at this point. He under-performed expectations in Ottawa, but he is a serviceable 4th (maybe 3rd) line C. The big knock against him is the $3m cap hit and $3.5m salary, as well as the second-line expectations that the fan base in Ottawa gave him.
After hearing these thoughts, has your opinion of the trade changed, or mellowed at all? Let us know in the comments.