Mar 16, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Nathan Lieuwen (50) comes into the game for injured goalie Jhonas Enroth (1) during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres Goaltender Conundrum

The Buffalo Sabres are facing a goaltender conundrum.  This upcoming season will most likely be the tandem of Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth.  Unfortunately that is where the experiment with those two goaltenders will likely end.

Both of the Buffalo Sabres goaltenders need to have career years; at the end of the upcoming season both Enroth and Neuvirth are unrestricted free agents.

The Buffalo Sabres could get better next year, by signing a goaltender on July 1st- but with the value they are getting out of Enroth and Neuvirth; and the ultimate goal of drafting high again next off season, avoiding the goaltender situation will likely be the course of action.

Buffalo Sabres Goalie Upgrade

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The white elephant in the room.  The family member that everyone has that no one wants to talk about.  Bringing Ryan Miller back could make the Buffalo Sabres better.  He is likely up against the last contract of his career.  The problem is, we have already been down that road, and Ryan Miller doesn’t want to be in Buffalo, despite the fact that the Sabres want to throw the first bank of Pegula at him.

The problem Miller is facing is he finally gets on a good team, and saw his potential stock dwindle as he put up sub par numbers on a favorite team that saw a first round exit.  Given the context of free agency – Ryan Miller will still get paid, it just better not be from the Buffalo Sabres.

 

Hometown Hero

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Odds are the Buffalo Sabres are going to trade Jhonas Enroth or Michal Neuvirth; or even both.  Why – because they both have expiring contracts and the organization is trying to get what they can and not let anyone hit free agency during the rebuild.  If your not a part of the future, Tim Murray is going to turn you into parts for the future.  With Tim Murray turning expiring contracts into draft picks and deals, he could feasibly deal both of these goaltenders despite the season they are having.

Are the Rochester Americans and Elmira Jackals ready to bear the weight of the end of another NHL season?  Likely not, and Andrey Makarov, Matt Hackett, Connor Knapp, Nathan Lieuwen, and whatever street free agents the team can sign to amateur or pro tryout contracts will likely have to bear the weight of the end of the season, unless…

David Leggio could make his triumphant return to the city of Buffalo after being allowed to hit free agency previously.  The Williamsville native might jump at the chance to actually get to the Buffalo Sabres crease fairly regularly, something he couldn’t do with the likes of Ryan Miller in town.

Backup Goalie Rebooted

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Of course, the first two goalies on my list have already worn and been cast off the Buffalo Island in survivor fashion, so why not the third.  If your not looking at the goalie of the future and just seeking the goalie of right now – why not bring back Drew Macintyre for a spin?

To his credit, he is one of nine goalies to have scored a goal in the American Hockey League.  For a goalie who has paid his dues in the bus leagues and abroad (one KHL team, two ECHL teams, seven AHL teams, and three NHL teams) – what is one more stop to try and get a full time regular NHL gig somewhere, even as a backup?

 

Wiley Old Veteran

Why not give a veteran goaltender looking for one more hoorah the chance to play in the National Hockey League one last time?   Martin Biron would love to finish his career on a team that would play him – and has spent his entire career on the East coast, so it wouldn’t be so far fetched to convince him to play out the remaining days of his career as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

If your looking for aged wisdom in your locker room to teach the younger kids how to act on the road and how to deal with adversity, Tim Thomas will be shopping around the open market trying to hold onto his career – and Nikolai Khabibulin is trying to stay marketable.

That accounts for the over 40 club, but there are also many serviceable goaltenders looking for their final contract looking to end their careers on a high note playing past their prime.

The Buffalo Sabres will have to address their goaltending situation at some point, it just doesn’t have to be this year.  It would be easy to let the Americans pick up the slack after trades deal Enroth or Neuvirth or both; but Murray wants to build a winner in Rochester too.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres David Leggio Drew MacIntyre Jhonas Enroth Martin Brodeur Michal Neuvirth Tim Thomas

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