A Ridiculous(ly Awesome) Lalime Trade

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

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  • roadkill

    The problem with your theory is that Nabakov can’t be traded this year because of waiver claim rules. The only way the Islanders can move him is to put him back on waivers.

  • wewanttaro

    Curses. All the salary research in the world is wasted.

    Thanks for the insight though.

  • streetsabre

    From what I understand, you CAN trade Nabokov. Just because he was claimed from waivers does not mean he cannot be traded.

    From the CBA Section 13.23:

    13.23 In the event a professional or former professional Player plays in a league outside
    North America after the start of the NHL Regular Season, other than on Loan from his
    Club, he may thereafter play in the NHL during that Playing Season (including Playoffs)
    only if he has first either cleared or been obtained via Waivers. For the balance of the
    Playing Season, any such Player who has been obtained via Waivers may be Traded or
    Loaned only after again clearing Waivers or through Waiver claim.

    Now let us put forth the following trade:
    * Sabres trade Lalime to Islanders
    * Islanders trade Nabokov and a conditional pick to Sabres

    The Islanders would have to put him back on waivers, making him available to any team… However, they still get Lalime, and the Sabres still get a conditional draft pick. The “condition” that they put on the pick could be “second round pick if another team claims the waived player, fourth round pick if the waived player is obtained by the Sabres.”

    Either way, the Sabres get something they want and the Islanders get a desperately needed goaltender.

    This trade can work.

  • streetsabre

    I need to also note: Nabokov would be willing to waive his no-trade clause.

  • roadkill

    I suppose that is doable. That is a lot of hurdles to jump over for a goalie that only wants to play for a top tier cup contender. The main problem is if Nabby gets picked up by another team or continues to stay home the Sabres’ would still need another goalie.

  • streetsabre

    He’d have his no-trade waived if he knew he was going to a team better than the Islanders.

    I’m sure he’d play for the team he’d get traded to if he agreed to waive the clause. On top of that, not many teams would risk claiming him out of sheer fear of having the same debacle happening again.

  • wewanttaro

    I edited the original post, making sure to give credit to the comments section. I’ll say right now I’m not as well versed in the waivers rule as you guys. That’s one of my many imperfections.

    Regarding the last point made, that Nabby wants to play for a top tier Cup contender…if his agent has any brains and any sway over him, he’d tell him to take whatever he can get. Because when next year rolls around (if the Isles’ suspension doesn’t mean he rolls over to be *their* goalie in 2011-2012) no serious teams are going to want to deal with him after these shenanigans.

    …well, maybe the Rangers. But they’re set in goal.

    If he makes it here and refuses to report, what are we going to lose? As it stands, the Sabres are probably going to rest Miller by calling up Enroth from Portland *every single time.* At least this would be an aggressive move on their part. We always hear Regier tell the media that he thinks this team has what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. Well, prove it. If he actually had that kind of faith in this club, he would make a gutsy, ballsy, big move like this. If it failed, we’d have a pick one way or the other. If it worked, we’d have a good backup making a playoff push.

    Anyway, as I said originally, I don’t kid myself for one moment to think that this is a deal that would ever happen. But it generated a bit of discussion, which is always good.

  • wewanttaro

    As it stands, Lalime is walking at the end of the year like so many free agents, good or bad. I’m not exactly going to tear up to see him go, but at least get something for him. Even a 5th round pick or a goalie that may or may not make it to you. Too many times has this organization just let players leave for absolutely nothing.

    The Isles are going to sign a goalie at the deadline. We have a goalie we are never going to use. Seriously, how many games do you see Lalime starting the rest of the year? Because it’s February and he’s played 5. Get at least a pick for him while you can.