- Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE
Where do the Buffalo Sabres stand with talent when it comes to goaltending? There is little doubt in any fan of the blue and gold that the tandem of Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth will be leading the team throughout the 2012-2013 regular season.
Beyond that however – the Buffalo Sabres need help when it comes to their goaltending depth. The answer may not lie in the thin free agent market of NHL ready talent, so Europe may provide that relief.
Enter into the picture Cristobal Huet. According to reports, Huet is ready to return
to the NHL. For the Buffalo Sabres, beyond the NHL ready tandem already in Buffalo – the Sabres are an injury away from struggling between the pipes.
Jhonas Enroth was once the heir apparent for Ryan Miller – with his outstanding play between the pipes when Ryan Miller was injured. His numbers last year were a little more grounded and he grudged the season away waiting and praying for ice time to keep himself fresh. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Enroth is not a capable backup – he is more than adequate despite his smallish frame.
Rochester has some depth at goaltender, but not every goalie for the Americans can be called up without some contract talk. Drew Macintrye draws the straw first for the Buffalo Sabres if a call up is necessary – followed in line by David Leggio and Connor Knapp who was signed this April to a tryout contract. Macintyre and Leggio were signed as free agents to the Buffalo Sabres AHL club.
Buffalo entertained All-World goaltender Dominik Hasek as he tries to return to the NHL at the tender age of 47 – which was probably more courtesy than anything given what Hasek
gave to the team in years past. Buffalo should be looking at getting another NHL ready goaltender in the wings just in case – if not for the experience in case of a worst case scenario – but bringing an NHL ready goaltender gives you that trading piece you might need to bring in a number one center.
Huet may be that piece the Buffalo Sabres need. Exiled by the Chicago Blackhawks
looking for salary relief after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 – Huet is looking for any avenue to get back into the NHL.
I still belong, I’m better than some other guys, and I’d like another shot.
While Huet may think he has what it takes to be the boss in an NHL crease, or a steady backup role – he may have to entertain offers to pay his dues in an AHL franchise before returning back to the bigs.
The wait in Buffalo may not be long before a void is available. Ryan Miller remains under contract for the next two seasons when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If Miller hasn’t gotten close to lifting the Stanley Cup with the Buffalo Sabres – or if he feels that there is little chance of it in the immediate future, there will be any number of teams standing in line waiting for his services – and he will demand a premium price on the open market. With a 6.25 million dollar salary now – if Miller can rebound from a poor season and make headway in the league the next two years, he will be looking to get an increase on that amount.
Jhonas Enroth is signed through the next season at a very affordable $675,000. When he hits the restricted free agent market after next season, the mite size goaltender will look to be paid like a regular NHL backup, and not an entry level rookie. Arbitration is only for people with four or more years in the league, or if the player signed their contract after the age of 20 – if my findings are accurate (I could be wrong) that makes Enroth ineligible for arbitration.
If the Sabres get the inkling they won’t be able to get a deal done with Enroth’s camp next year, the move might be to bring a guy like Huet on a three year deal – if things work out with Enroth but not Miller, Huet can back up Enroth – or give Enroth another year of experience. If Enroth departs, then Huet can back up Miller.
If your looking for intangibles – if anything else it adds a guy on your depth chart that has been on a Cup winning team. There will be plenty of teams looking at Huet, either to add depth to an nhl ready tandem, or to fill a whole on the bench or in the crease to start the 2012-2013 season.