Readers, joining our writing staff is the Swedish Twitter phenom known as @steffeG. If you're not following him on Twitter, do yourself a favor and start today. steffeG will be bringing some insight and analysis while hopefully allowing to me to never use Google Translate again for some of those Swedish news articles that pertain to Senators players or prospects.
Without further ado...
There’s no doubting the fact that the big and bald Alex Auld, and more specifically, his sub-par play, has been causing problems for the Senators this season. The performances or lack thereof from Auld has led to a workload for Craig Anderson that would be described internally amongst goalies as “humongous”. That is, of course, aside from the more obvious fact that the team has arguably no more than two quality games from Auld, an October win at home against the Capitals, and the overtime loss in Vancouver on the western road trip in November.
With many - and perhaps nobody more so than the organization itself, it would seem – pinning their hopes to the Calder Cup winning Swedish prospect Robin Lehner. However, with the season not being the dominant definite breakout towards NHL-readiness for Lehner that you’d ideally hope, voices of reason have been raised to plea the case of “Lenny” staying another year in the city of happiness that is Binghamton, NY.
So, if all the eggs is with Craig Anderson’s metaphorical basket for now, and with Robin Lehner for the future, it would be stupid to spend too much money or throw assets on another team’s property to back-up and challenge the ice girl loving number one that is already in place.
Enter Viktor Fasth.
Wait, what? Who? Well, Viktor Fasth might not be known to the North American hockey audience, but he’s been arguably the best goalie playing in Europe over the last two seasons, highlighted by carrying his predicted bottom-feeder AIK of the SEL to an appearance in the semifinals as well as the Swedish team to a silver medal at the World Championships.
Despite being a late-bloomer, Fasth has now shown enough at the Swedish level and the sans-NHL national team level to earn an NHL contract, and there is no doubt there is interest from NHL teams. No team was willing to offer the one-way deal that he wanted last year, but there have been teams calling this year again. Ottawa should be one of them. He’s good, he’s cheap, and perhaps most importantly, he’s Swedish. If the thing backfires completely, well, he’s going back to Sweden, with no harm done to the team and the organization despite the odd soft goal, at worst.
A signing with potential with basically no downside? Sign me up! At the very least, it’d show a bit more ambition than signing a guy that the entire hockey world already knows can’t perform at the needed level, a signing based solely on the fact that the guy has been here before and has the same haircut as the starter.
Prologue: No offence, Alex Auld. I actually love your haircut.
Lehner's twitter persona is somewhat unnerving to me and his lock on the goaltending universe has loosened to a degree with what's going on in Bingo this year. I'm with havey03 and Viktor Fasth - thumbs up to goaltending depth.
Certainly an interesting idea, that the Sens may want to consider. My thoughts, I would let Auld ride out the year, and let him go. Even if the team makes the playoffs this year, the goal tending won't be the only thing keeping them from going far. Bring Lehner in as a back-up next year. Part of the reason his play has stagnated might be because he has no motivation to perform. He has won a Calder Cup in Bingo, what else is there to do? This guy thrives on competition, which being a back-up would give him next year.
Side note: draft a goalie this year!
@MelnyksHangovers I don't really know what you're trying to say here. Is it a case for keeping Auld as the backup? That he's better than Anderson?
@steffeG Well, firstly I wasn't clear if you were suggesting we sign him right now to help down the stretch or in the summer. If it's summer then I don't think you needed to mention Auld in your piece at all because he's clearly not being brought back.
My point was that the timing of this post doesn't make a lot of sense to me because clearly the backup goaltending hasn't been the problem with the team the past month.
@steffeG Provided his heart isn't going to explode three times in the first year he's over here I'm not against it I guess. However if I was betting I would think he'd end up in a place where he has a better chance at becoming a #1.
@MelnyksHangovers Agreed with all your points but the Lehner one. If we could have both, terrific. That does mean that Lehner would have to spend another year in Bingo, which I'm perfectly fine, with, anyway.
@steffeG So he played in the SEL for the first time as a 28 year-old? I agree that the downside is minimal. I'm not against letting him fight for the job in camp, but I don't know if I'm more comfortable with this guy than with a kid who has won a Calder Cup and played some pretty quality games at the NHL level already.
To me, this is the type of move than should have been made for this season, not next season.
@MelnyksHangovers That's exactly what I'm suggesting. Lehner could benefit from more time in the minors, it's certainly not gonna hurt him. With Fasth (or any other goalie that's not a career backup in both mindset, quality and potential) it would be a more ambitious effort to get something out of that slot that's been given to Auld. Fasth is a good goalie. He could become a starter, he could also be gone from North America, never too be heard of again. I'm just arguing it's definitely worth a shot to go for a guy like that because the downside is minimal.Oh, and here's his stats and career profile, which I guess is what you are looking for: http://eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=5147
@steffeG So you would rather start next season with a backup goalie who is 29 years old and has never played a game of North American hockey than the 21 year-old we've been developing and has proven he can be good in North America? I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just surprised by this suggestion.
I understand Lehner hasn't had the kind of year everyone would like, but a lot of that is related to injuries, shitty team play, and attacking the refs. If Fasth is willing to come over on a two-way and offer us some insurance then it makes sense to me, but if there are other teams interested like you're saying then this won't be an option.
Also, why can't I find this guy on hockeydb?
@MelnyksHangovers It's not possible to sign him right now, but perhaps I should've been more clear about that. And it was not so much him vs. Auld as a guy like Auld, i.e. a backup with no hopes of being anything other than that, compared to guys that can actually contribute more.
I've said before, I'll say again. This team needs more goaltending depth. We have no prospects beyond Lehner. Sign him up. I don't think anyone in the organization or fan base is going to have a problem with Lehner spending another year with the BSens. He simply hasn't shown he's ready for NHL duty. Lehner needs someone in the organization to push him to earn the spot. Right now he seems to think it is his by default.
Don't get me wrong, I like Lehner & hope he turns out to be as good as predicted. He had a great playoff run, and I was glad to see it. I'd just like to see him put together a solid 6 months of play followed by a spectacular 2 months of play as opposed to mediocre & then solid.
@havey03 100% agree. Teams that regularly produce goaltending talent don't just have one player in the pipe. Look at all the goalies Nashville, Minnesota and San Jose have produced over the years.
@havey03 Last year before the draft, Murray made some comment about talking to his scouts and alerting them to the fact that he wanted to find another goaltender. Obviously, his desire was never realized. Wonder if it will happen this year.
@GraemeNichols Auld's last game impressed me up until the last few minutes. Was this written prior to Nas on Thurs?