The first bombshell of 2015 Draft Day was dropped when the Ottawa Senators sent Robin Lehner and David Legwand to Buffalo in exchange for the 21st overall pick, and its significance is of importance, not just to the Sens and Sabres, but to the rest of the league too.
Many will feel Buffalo overpaid for the 23-year-old goalie, and perhaps they are right. A middle-first round pick is a lot to give up for a player who has played fewer than 100 NHL games and has zero experience as a number one goalie. Add in the conceivable cap dump in David Legwand, and Ottawa ostensibly walks away the winner.
But there are more winners to this trade than what meets the eye. The over-payment for Lehner raises the market for goaltenders this offseason. Only a few weeks ago, insiders reported that Eddie Lack would not likely be worth anything more than a singular second-rounder, but if Ottawa can fetch a first for Lehner, surely Lack is of at least equal value?
The Sens' trade also thins the goalie market, as it removes Ottawa as sellers and Buffalo as buyers. What is left includes the Canucks, with Lack and Markstrom, along with the Rangers, with Cam Talbot. Who is left that is willing to buy? What assets do they have? Do GMs Jim Benning and Glen Sather have enough leverage to get away with a King's ransom?
One would think that San Jose and Edmonton are still in on the market for goaltenders. The Sharks hold picks number 9 and 39 in the draft, while the Oilers hold 16 and 33. And while Peter Chiarelli has stated that he will not offer the 16th pick for a goaltender, one has to think these teams will have to give up high picks potentially along with prospects in order to acquire a goalie.
The Rangers are certainly looking to get the most bang for the buck with Talbot, reportedly refusing an offer of a first-round pick earlier today.
As of yet, there is no clear indication that Vancouver is leaning towards trading Markstrom or Lack, but with the going rate for goalies the highest it has been in months, trading Lack might be the most sensible, as he carries the most value.
And if the Canucks can get a return similar to what the Sabres got for Lehner, Vancouver's goalie circus might finally end with a solid, unquestionably good decision.