FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. –
Tim Murray was looking for an NHL goaltender and he thinks he’s acquired the best one available. It’s the start of what he believes could be a great day for the franchise.
The Buffalo Sabres general manager made a trade Friday morning with the Ottawa Senators that has goaltender Robin Lehner and forward Legwand coming in and the 21st overall pick in Friday night’s first round of the 2015 NHL Draft going out.
Lehner, 23, is 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and will have the chance to compete for the starting job with the Sabres once camp opens in September.
“Robin was our target. He was the No. 1 goalie available from our estimation and we came to an agreement,” Murray said Friday morning.
“I think he’s a very talented, big, strong young man that is just scratching the surface. Hopefully we can bring the best out of him.”
Lehner hasn’t played since sustaining a concussion after colliding with teammate Clarke MacArthur in a game on Feb. 16. Murray said Friday that Lehner has been cleared by doctors and is working out in his home country of Sweden.
However, it’s the long-term prospects of having a goaltender of Lehner’s caliber that made the deal especially enticing.
“He’s young. He fits what we’re trying to do. And if it takes this year only for him to get his feet back under him, I’m fine with that,” Murray said, “because if we become a competitive team in two years or three years and he’s found his game and becomes what we think he is, it’s the perfect fit.”
Murray also said he’d still like to add more depth in goal and will continue to look for a goaltender for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
The first round of the 2015 NHL Draft kicks off at 7 p.m. The Sabres will make the second-overall selection and are expected to take Hobey Baker-winner Jack Eichel if the Edmonton Oilers pick Connor McDavid first (as they’re extremely likely to do).
“Can you not tell how excited I am?” Murray deadpanned before attempting to hold back a smile. “I’m legitimately excited and I don’t say that very often.
“We’re going to walk out of here – I assume – after today with Jack Eichel and Robin Lehner. That’s huge for the franchise, huge for the organization. As soon as we make the pick, I’ll be thinking about tomorrow, obviously, because that’s the way I am.
“We’ve made the trade this morning. Then we get to go and pick a franchise player. I think it’s a great day for us.”
As for Legwand, Murray said it’ll be up to Legwand and coach Dan Bylsma when it comes to what role the 17-year veteran will play on the team.
“He’s a veteran that’s been around a long time. He knows what goes on in this League,” Murray said. “From everything I’ve heard, he’s a professional.”