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NHL Draft Opens With Pair of Goaltender Trades

NHL Draft Opens With Pair of Goaltender Trades
Robin Lehner was  traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the 2015 NHL entry draft.

Robin Lehner ended up being the odd goaltender out in Ottawa, as he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the 2015 NHL entry draft.

The first round of the NHL Entry Draft can sometimes be as interesting for the trades that emerge as for the players drafted. After all, a room full of NHL General Managers and their staff can lead to conversations that can lead to deals. This is especially true for goaltenders, as teams generally pick very few goalies on opening night.

This year was no exception.

The day started off early with a morning goaltender trade where the Ottawa Senators sent Robin Lehner and David Legwand to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for the 21st overall pick.

Unlike other rumoured trade targets Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers and Eddie Lack of the Vancouver Canucks, Lehner comes with cost certainty. While Talbot and Lack are each set to become unrestricted free agents after the 2015-16 season, Lehner has two more years left on a contract with an average annual value of $2.25 million, and two more years of team control as a restricted free agent. It also helps that Sabres general manager Tim Murray knows the 6-foot-5 goaltender well from his time in the Senators front office.

“Robin was our target. He was the number one goalie available in out eyes,” Murray told reporters. “He just needed a change of scenery. … You have to dig deep into this kid’s background, what a starting goaltender is in the NHL. We’ve done our homework. … Big, tall goalie. Highly competitive. Talented. Think he’s a No.1 goalie. … You don’t win without a good goaltender. Lehner has proven he can win and he’s highly competitive.”

Martin Jones was sent from L.A. to Boston just before NHL draft action began.

Martin Jones was sent from L.A. to Boston just before NHL draft action began.

As the day wore on, most of the talk centered on whether Cam Talbot or perhaps Eddie Lack would be dealt, but in the waning hours of the afternoon, the Boston Bruins acquired Martin Jones, a prospect, and a first round pick from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Milan Lucic.

With Niklas Svedberg headed to Europe, there was a need for a new backup goaltender in Beantown, but many assumed that it would be Malcolm Subban taking that spot. With this trade, that may no longer be the case.

InGoal Magazine’s Managing Editor Kevin Woodley would weigh in on the trade:

Once again the Kings turned a goalie they developed internally into a trade asset. In the case of Jones, they didn’t even waste a draft pick in the first place, signing him as an undrafted free agent invited to development camp. With the next wave of goalies coming off an AHL championship and ready to step into limited action behind workhorse Jonathan Quick, the Kings are the model when it comes to developing goalies. No wonder development goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh is in demand and expected to take an NHL job soon.

No other goaltending action occurred until pick 22 of the first round of the draft, when the Washington Capitals selected Ilya Samsonov, a high-upside pick with a bit of a “Russian factor” risk.

The young Russian phenom played for Magnitogorsk of the MHL (KHL’s junior league) and performed exceptionally well during international play, where he caught the attention of many scouts.

The fact that Samsonov is signed to the KHL for the next three years apparently did not scare the Capitals away, as they selected him higher than most experts projected that he would go.

Draft action continues Saturday, June 27, starting at 8 a.m. ET and will be carried on Sportsnet in Canada and NBCSN in the United States. As always, InGoal will have all of the goaltending updates from the day. InGoal contributor Greg Balloch also has an in-depth breakdown of the Top Five Draft Eligible goaltenders.

About The Author

Clare Austin

Clare Austin is a reluctant "stats nerd" living in Nashville, where she has never worn a cowboy hat or boots.