Having devoted some digital ink to benefits of bringing in Josh Harding as free agent last summer -- Harding ultimately re-signed with Minnesota before July 1st -- I was planning on penning an article to stress the point that the Senators should avoid the trade market for a back up goaltender.
Don't get me wrong, having watched Alex Auld's performance last night and with there being no guarantee that Robin Lehner can take the ball and run with it in Craig Anderson's absence, there was a need for a reliable backup goaltender.
Now Senators fans and management are hoping that Ben Bishop is that guy. After a few tweets from Andy Strickland and Bruce Garrioch confirmed that the Senators and St. Louis Blues were discussing a trade, reports are coming in that Bishop has been acquired for a 2013 second round pick.
As an impending Group VI free agent, the 25-year old Bishop would have qualified for unrestricted free agency had he failed to appear in 15 NHL games this season. With Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott boxing him into an AHL role, had to trade Bishop or risk losing him for nothing on July 1st.
There are some conflicting reports that Ottawa has agreed to a one-year one-way contract extension with Bishop, however Strickland just wrote that Senators management will be talking to Bishop's representatives this afternoon.
The 6'7" 205 lb goaltender is not only massive, he's putting up some big numbers in the AHL this season. To date, he has a 24-14-0 record, a GAA of 2.26 and a save percentage of .928. And for those who want to believe that some AHL accolade has some bearing on his future success, Bishop was named as the 2012 AHL All-Star Game MVP.
Unfortunately, much like Robin Lehner, Bishop is an unproven NHL commodity. As easy as it is to get caught up in Bishop's potential and size, he's still the same goalie that GM Doug Armstrong boxed into an AHL job by re-signing Brian Elliott for two more years. In 13 career NHL games, Bishop has a 3-4-0 record, one shutout and carries a 2.83 GAA with a .896 save percentage.
Considering that tomorrow's the NHL Trade Deadline, perhaps management felt a sense of urgency to make a deal to protect the team's playoff interests? Or, maybe the injury to Anderson's finger is worse than they have let on?
As much as we can discuss the risks that an extended injury to Anderson could present, isn't this exactly the risk that the Senators inherited when they made a conscious decision to give a workhorse like Craig Anderson a contract extension last season?
Now obviously the stakes have changed considerably since the start of season. The Senators have exceeded all expectations and are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot, but with ownership and management espousing the benefits of a sticking to its original 'three year rebuilding plan', I would have preferred the organization holding onto whatever future assets they have so that they could be better spent on a more pressing need in the offseason.
At its core, the Senators moved a valuable future asset to address a short-term need at a volatile position. Personally, it's an asset that I would have preferred seeing the organization actually move in a package to fill a more pressing long-term need like the defence. With a workhorse in Anderson signed for three more years and at a position in which a number of decent alternatives are always vying for a limited number of jobs in free agency, it's an easy position to fill.
Turris To Have Disciplinary Hearing Today
According to NHL.com, the Department of Player Safety will hold a disciplinary hearing Sunday with Ottawa Senators forward Kyle Turris to discuss a boarding penalty called after Turris' hit on Boston Bruins defenseman Joe Corvo during the third period of the Senators-Bruins game, Saturday in Ottawa.
Bizarre. After watching Wojtek Wolski land a blow to Alfredsson's head and with Jesse Winchester is still suffering the ill effects of a concussion after being hit from behind by Buffalo's Paul Gaustad, I was led to believe that the Department of Player Safety ignored the events that occur in Senators games.
I agree with the theory that underlies your argument: it makes little sense for a team in the Sens' position (organizationally and at the NHL level) to sacrifice a useful asset for a backup goaltender. To classify Bishop as a backup also distorts the asset we've recovered. To pull from the repertoire of Trailer Park Boys' J-Roc, there are degrees of backup goalies and Bishop is at the upper echelon in terms of the value he provides to the Senators, both this season and beyond. It's not like we traded a 2nd round pick for Nabokov, Giguere, Roloson or Scott Clemmensen. We've obtained a goaltender in his third professional season who was blocked by (choke) the strongest tandem in the NHL.
Bishop has a load of upside and his value is very unlikely to regress by the 2013 draft. On the other hand, if he puts up decent numbers this season and next (it's now the case that the Sens and Bishop have agreed to a one-year extension worth $650,000), he will be worth much more than a 2nd rounder. It gives us plenty of flexibility at the position moving forward.
I understand what you say about packaging the 2nd round pick and turning into a more valuable asset, but I don't think this trade really prevents us from doing that.
The team has ZERO goaltending depth, something that would have to be addressed with a draft pick. And drafting a goalie is much more of a crapshoot than using a pick to acquire one that has been groomed and has showed success at the minor pro level.
This is a brilliant move by Murray. It affords us some depth at the goalie position. Allows Anderson to rest for more than 11 games a year, and gives competition to both Lehner and Anderson.
Goaltending depth is never a bad thing. Do you think Minnesota is upset that they have Backstrom locked for a few years, as well as Harding AND a very good Hackett waiting in the wings?
Don't forget that we can flip Bishop for a 2nd rounder+ in the future whenever Lehner is ready.
Wamsley coached Bishop and currently coaches Lehner. I am sure he had input in this and it's clear the organization doesn't think Lehner is ready for next season(and maybe beyond).
Having too many goalies is a good problem to have.
We had zero depth in goal in the organaization. It was a need that would have to have been filled in draft this year anyways. Worst case scenario is we end up with 3 NHL quality goaltenders. Assets to trade to fill future needs. Also, I think with Lehner's performance this year, he needed the message the position with the big club wasn't his by default, he needs to earn it. Overall, I like it.
A 2013 draft pick is a fair price for a gamble like this. Part of the trade is to create some competition for heir apparent, always a good thing.
@The Dutch Treat Harding is on the trade block as a UFA. He'll be available in the summer.
@Nichols6thSens And having the goaltending depth that Minnesota has allows them to trade Harding for usable assets. You of all people should know that once these players hit free agency, the desperation for players drives prices up. A guy like Harding will be coveted by a lot of teams. If we miss out then because a team like Tampa Bay or Toronto offered him the moon, now you're looking at signing another "Alex Auld"-type back-up.
In the event that Bishop pans out, Anderson is still good and Lehner develops, you have a situation where we can move a tender for actual roster players. I would kill to be in the position that Vancouver is in with Schneider. They can move him for impact players.
We gave up a 2nd yes, but you're not taking into account that the club was going to burn a high pick (anywhere between the first and third rounds) on another goaltending prospect. Isn't a developed Bishop a better risk than Malcolm Subban?