There is no goalie controversy in the Sabres organization. Jhonas Enroth looked great in the hostile Bell Centre, but anybody who thinks he’s anywhere close to replacing Ryan Miller needs to get their head examined. There is, however, a goalie problem…and there is a bold solution.
The problem, which has been addressed ad nauseam since Enroth was called up, is what in the world the Buffalo Sabres are going to do with Patrick Lalime. It has been made very clear that Lindy Ruff trusts Lalime about as far as he can throw him. The veteran goalie has zero wins for the season, five losses, and has been pulled. He’s looked shakey in the net, he sat on the bench for 31 consecutive games, and then he sat when the kid was called up from the minors to rest Miller. In fact, when Ryan Miller let in 5 goals on 11 shots against the Islanders, he should have been pulled. Instead, Lalime continued to keep the bench warm and last year’s Vezina Trophy winner got embarrassed and had a shouting match with Buffalo’s favorite bag of hot air.
Now this really only hurts the Sabres from a PR standpoint. They can let Lalime sit on the bench and call up Enroth whenever they want, riding Miller as far as he can take them, and the organization won’t lose a thing. They won’t gain anything in the end, and that action will hurt an organization that has had its fair share of PR black eyes the last few seasons.
I think it’s poetic justice that the team that brought this issue to light, the one that cracked Miller’s patience and made him yell and swear in front of the little kids in the locker room, could be the team that helps us out here. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the New York Islanders have a bit of a goaltender crisis of their own. Rick DiPietro has taken his yearly vacation because he’s made of sugar glass and Kevin Poulin is following in his footsteps. Mikko Koskinen has looked like a kid from the minors (spoiler: cuz he is!) and right now Al Montoya is the franchise record-breaking sixth netminder that’s played for them this season. Islanders goaltenders are the equivalent to Spinal Tap drummers.
Oh, and they claimed some guy off waivers who refuses to report. A buddy of mine came up with this dandy of a trade…
Garth Snow needs a veteran who is any kind of competent that can get the Isles through this year (which in my head looks like this), maybe keep them ahead of Ottawa for last in the league, and he’s got to be at his absolute last wit with Evgeni Nabokov refusing to report. Darcy Regier needs to get an inexpensive goalie that isn’t named Patrick Lalime, and maybe Lindy Ruff will put that guy in a couple of games. Evgeni Nabokov desperately needs to help his image, and for Pete’s sake Lalime just wants to play a few more games in the NHL.
The Sabres should offer Patrick Lalime for Evgeni Nabokov and a late pick (4th or 5th round).
*Regarding the waivers situation (see comments below): make that pick conditional…if another team takes Nabby off waivers, it becomes a second rounder.*
Worst case scenario, Nabokov refuses to report to the Sabres. Also, his agent would probably jump off a building. If you want to talk about career suicide, I think going to the KHL for more money, leaving the KHL out of spite, and refusing to report to two teams in a row might be at the top of that list. And if he refuses to report, we get a pick and we have a backup goaltender that never plays a game…which leaves us exactly a pick richer than we currently are.
What do the Sabres gain? Well, the Blue & Gold would have a veteran goalie backing up Ryan Miller as they push toward the playoffs. If Miller gets hurt, it would look bad but it would no longer be the end of the world. Nabokov, meanwhile, would actually have incentive to play and to play hard for the Sabres as he’s trying to justify anybody signing him next season.
From the Islanders perspective, they get a body that’s played double digit NHL games to sit in the net. Yeah, they give up a late pick, but they’re a young team with a ton of offense. They’re set to receive an early first rounder this year, and giving up a late pick won’t exactly set back their lengthy rebuilding agenda. As it stands, if Montoya or Koskinen succumb to The Nassau Arena Curse and a damn air conditioner falls on them from the rafters, Garth Snow would be dangerously close to dressing defensemen as goalies and Zamboni drivers as defensemen.
Will the Sabres do it? Probably not. If this was last year I’d feel pretty confident saying that we’d hang on to Lalime’s contract, let him walk at the end of the season, and run the late season gamut with Ryan Miller looking like a frayed rug. However, we’ve got the wild card known as New Ownership. What better way to make their mark than to make a bold move to improve this hot-button issue weak point?
Topics: Al Montoya, Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Darcy Regier, Draft Pick, Eastern Conference, Evgeni Nabokov, Fansided, Garth Snow, Hockey, Jhonas Enroth, Kevin Poulin, Lalime, Lindy Ruff, Mikko Koskinen, Miller, Nabokov, New York Islanders, NHL, Patrick Lalime, Playoffs, Public Relations, Ryan Miller, Sabres, Terry Pegula, Trade, Trade Deadline, Vezina, Vezina Trophy