Goalie options for the Sabres to combat Robin Lehner's injury
The Sabres starter was injured in the team's first game of the season. Do you want them to bring in another goalie?
Robin Lehner left last night's game with an injury, and Dan Bylsma didn't lift hopes up in his post-game presser. The Sabres coach said that Lehner's injury is not a day-to-day injury and could be long-term. He left First Niagara Center last night in a walking boot. Chad Johnson is next in line, with either Nathan Lieuwen or Andrey Makarov likely getting the call-up if the Sabres decide to stay in-house.
If Buffalo decides to make a trade or sign a free agent goalie while they wait for Lehner to return they have some options. Here are some goalies that are or could be on the market.
The Oilers goalie last season had a rough time when he was thrown into a full-time starting position. It could be argued that he was one of the reasons that the Oilers weren't a good team last season. He had a .890 save percentage last season, down from his .912 from the season before. Edmonton waived him and sent him to Bakersfield last week.
Niklas Backstrom or Darcy Kuemper
The Wild are carrying three goalies this year, but Devan Dubnyk will likely carrry most of the playing time again. Backstrom is far more likely to be moved, since he is 37 and Kuemper is 25. He's signed to a very pricey $4 million per year contract, but the Sabres have plenty of cap room and he's contract is done at the end of the year. Backstrom is also coming off an elbow surgery.
Backstrom played in 19 games last season, posting a 5-7-0 record, a .887 save percentage and a 3.04 goals against average. He played a majority of the Wild's games from 2006 to 2013.
Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo or Joni Ortio
Calgary also has three backups backups on its roster. The Flames have a goalie battle going between Hiller and Ramo, with the latter earning the start in the season opener. Ramo is one of the most intriguing names on this list, but the Flames did choose to re-sign him to a one-year deal this off-season. He had a .912 save percentage in 34 games and started out the season by giving up five goals against Vancouver.
Hiller is starting the Flames next game, but could end up being the odd man out. He actually had a better save percentage last season (.918 in 52 games) in a good bounce back year, and is likely thought of as the best goalie on the Flames. Trading his $4.5 million would give the Flames a bit more flexibility (currently they have a bit more than $2 million in space). Both Hiller and Ramo are only signed through the end of the season.
Ortio is the young gun of the group, only playing his third season playing professionally in North America. He would have to clear waivers to be sent down, which is the reason they have all three on the roster.
The Canadiens backup last season, Tokarski was passed on the depth chart this season by Mike Condon. The 26-year-old goalkeeper had a .910 save percentage and a 2.75 goals against average in 17 games with Montreal last season.
It would take a lot for Sabres fans to entirely get behind the former Senators goalie, but Ray Emery is one of the biggest free agent names available. Emery played 31 games as the Flyers backup last season with a .894 save percentage and a 3.06 goals against average. He spent the preseason with the Lightning on a professional tryout agreement, but was cut at the end of September. The 33-year-old's NHL career seemed in doubt when he went to Russia in 2008, but returned a year later for his first stint with the Fylers.
He's the most entertaining goalie on this list, but certainly not the best. He may be out of this world, but he struggled mightily in his stint with the Ducks last season. His .847 goals against average and 4.19 goals against average are frightening numbers, especially when you consider he was playing for a good team. He'd make for a great episode of Beyond Blue & Gold, but probably isn't a great fit.
Another former Canadiens backup, Budaj has played nine seasons in the NHL. His most recent season in the NHL was two years ago with Montreal, with a decent .909 save percentage. Last year he played 19 games in the AHL with the St. John's IceCaps, but failed to get a victory and averaged more than three and a half goals a game. He was invited to the Kings camp on a PTO to see if he would be a fit for the AHL Ontario Reign. After NHL camps concluded he was sent to the Ontario training camp.