This problem was inevitable from the moment that Andrew Hammond went on a tear leading up to the playoffs. Ottawa had to sign Hammond just to reward him for getting them into a playoffs they had no business being in. The fact that he then had a collapse was totally irrelevant as he had got them there in the first place; they were his playoffs to collapse in.
But signing Hammond gave Ottawa three goalies:
- Anderson, who can play at a Veznia clip when he's healthy, sometimes, and is probably at the peak of his career and possibly looking at the inevitable back side;
- Hammond, a 27 year old unknown goalie who has "statistical clustering" stamped all over him; and
- Lehner, the 24 year old "goalie of the future" who's future hadn't quite arrived yet.
So we had three guys who all maybe had upsides and all definitely had downsides and worst of all we had three of them so one of them had to go.
And now what have we got? A declining veteran backed up by this guy who I sincerely don't believe is really that good. Either one would be a perfect candidate for Ottawa's Goalie Graveyard.
Personally I wouldn't have signed Hammond. I know I'd have to for Reasons, but I wouldn't. Let someone else take the risk on Hammond. Anderson should be at a minimum a steady back-up for another couple seasons, by which time we'd know if Lehner's future was ever going to really arrive.
If I signed Hammond anyways, then yes Lehner is the one to flip as he'd get the best return. Buffalo is now a young hungry team and Lehner would fit in there quite nicely. He'll get the game time he needs and we'd see exactly how good he can be. In Ottawa there's still Anderson ahead of him on the depth chart, like it or not. The Buffalo move is potentially very good for Lehner.
If Lehner blossoms in Buffalo, it will be yet another team that has profited from Ottawa's mishandling of their goalie development.