It’s the five words that hockey fans love to hear from Gary Bettman on draft day: “There has been a trade,” and there were many that favoured the addition of goaltending depth.
Buffalo Sabres acquire Robin Lehner from the Ottawa Senators
After trading away Michal Neuvirth and Jonas Enroth for playing too well when Tim Murray was looking to finish last in the league, the Sabres needed to add a number one goalie. They turned to Robin Lehner of the Ottawa Senators, who had a shaky 2014-15 season. Lehner went 9-12-0 in 25 games with an awful 3. 02 GAA and .905 SV%.
Lehner is still observed as a potential starting goaltender if he is consistent and can stop a puck. His competition with Chad Johnson might be a healthy competition, but Lehner could also see it as a distraction. The Sabres took a gamble in acquiring Robin Lehner for the 21st overall pick. Lehner could definitely become the goaltender of the future that he was observed to be, but there has been much criticism for his attitude in the past few seasons.
Carolina Hurricanes acquire Eddie Lack from the Vancouver Canucks
General manager Ron Francis of the Carolina Hurricanes acquired Eddie Lack from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2015 3rd-round pick and a 2016 7th-round pick. Lack is emerging as a potential number one goalie, especially after challenging Roberto Luongo for the top role during the 2013-14 season where he posted a .912 save percentage and a 2.41 goals against average.
Lack had assumed the top role with the Canucks after the starter Ryan Miller had been injured. He went 12-6-2 from February 24 to April 9, and started the playoffs until finally being replaced by Ryan Miller after four poor performances leading up to game 5. Lack has proven that he can be consistent, as well as inconsistent. He can definitely find his own in Carolina as the team’s young core develops. Competing with Cam Ward for the top job will only make Eddie Lack better.
Dallas Stars acquire Antti Niemi from the San Jose Sharks
After a forgettable end to the Sharks’ season, San Jose decided to trade the rights of their five-year starter, Antti Niemi to the Dallas Stars for a 7th round pick in 2015. Niemi has been consistent in the regular season, but has been incredibly inconsistent in the playoffs. Throughout his tenure with the Sharks, Niemi has posted a .917 save percentage and a GAA of just over 2.5.
The Sharks are looking to Alex Stalock for stronger performances next season, while the Dallas Stars see positive in Niemi. The battle of the Fins, between Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi will be a friendly competition for the number one job to hopefully lead the Stars into the playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers acquire Cam Talbot from the New York Rangers
General Managers around the National Hockey League saw Cam Talbot as a future starting goaltender that can lead his team to success, especially Peter Chiarelli. Talbot posted a 21-9-0 record in 36 games for the Rangers, with a .926 save percentage and 2.21 GAA during the 2014-15 season. After a remarkable stretch of assuming the starting role when Henrik Lundqvist was out with his upper-body injury, Talbot was recognized as a goalie of the future.
Cam Talbot is looking forward to the 2015-16 season with the Edmonton Oilers. After the Oilers drafted Connor McDavid and acquired Griffin Reinhart as well as Eric Gryba, the team is looking to keep the puck out of the net with a legitimate back end.
New York Rangers acquire Antti Raanta from the Chicago Blackhawks
To replace Cam Talbot’s backup position, General Manager Glen Sather of the New York Rangers looked to the Chicago Blackhawks to acquire Antti Raanta. Raanta, 26, is still looking to find his own after winning only seven games and losing four with a total save percentage of .936 in 14 outings.
Raanta is a good goaltender that will serve as a great backup for Henrik Lundqvist. He obviously won’t immediately assume the starting role, but could take it on when, and if “The King” slows down.
Having a good goaltender is obviously the backbone of any hockey team. Will teams such as the Flames and Sharks acquire a much needed twine protector? Or will they stick with their young guns in Joni Ortio (Flames) and Alex Stalock (Sharks)? Only time will tell.
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