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The Sabres Observer

With Lehner Injured, Murray Needs To Call Calgary

When Robin Lehner was injured in last night's 3-1 opening night loss to Ottawa, here's hoping Tim Murray was on the phone within 5 minutes.

While most fans in Buffalo sensibly aren't having false illusions about the ceiling for this year's team, one thing for certain is another season struggling to stay out of 30th place is just not going to work. This currently excited and hopeful fan base will turn sour, and understandably so after what transpired during the past two horrific seasons.

Whether Lehner is out for days, weeks or months doesn't matter. This team needs an experienced veteran goaltender, as it has since training camp.

Meanwhile, there's a guy with a .917 save percentage in 378 career starts who sat on the bench as the backup during Calgary's opener. Would the Flames be willing to deal Jonas Hiller if and when Murray makes the call?

Hiller is 33 but looks to be the best option out there. Calgary is not going to carry three healthy goalies on the roster for the entire season, and they are very high on youngster Joni Ortio. They can't demote any of their goalies to the AHL without exposing them to waivers.

Given all of that, it doesn't make sense that the Flames would be against dealing either Karri Ramo, who started opening night, or Hiller. My sense is Hiller could be had for slightly less due to his age.

Buffalo has the cap space and is in need of someone who can make a few big stops behind what was confirmed last night is a shaky defense. Murray would have to give up a bit much for his liking to get Hiller, but that hasn't prevented him from making trades before.

So what would stop the Sabres GM from doing this and just signing someone off the scrap heap instead?

This situation could turn into a test of Murray's ego. If he trades a high draft pick or prospect for Hiller, he could actually be upgrading in net over someone for whom he stuck out his neck in giving up a first-round pick to acquire.

Hiller had a 2.36 GAA and .918 save percentage in 52 starts last season. He can still play, maybe even well enough to keep the number one job in Buffalo when Lehner returns.

It's a hypothetical, but that scenario would equate to bad optics for Murray. It's highly possible the asking price will be too high anyway.

But it's worth the effort and the risk. A few weeks of bad goaltending could put the Sabres in a huge hole early, and I'm not comfortable with Chad Johnson or any of the available free agents being the starter for any length of time.

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  Tags: robin+lehner


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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

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Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]