Before selecting Buffalo’s forward of the future with the No. 2 draft pick, Sabres general manager Tim Murray addressed another need: goalie.
Murray traded the 21st pick — the second of Buffalo’s two first-round selections — to the Ottawa Senators to acquire goalie Robin Lehner and forward David Legwand (Grosse Pointe North) on Friday morning. The deal was announced hours before the first-round of the NHL draft opens in Sunrise, Florida.
The Sabres are expected to open the draft by selecting highly touted Boston University center Jack Eichel with the second selection.
Lehner is the key to the deal for the Sabres, who closed last season without an established starting goalie. The 23-year-old now has an opportunity to take over the No. 1 job in Buffalo on a team that’s rebuilding from scratch and coming off consecutive last-place finishes.
“Lehner has proven he can win and he’s highly competitive,” Murray told reporters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Lehner was our target. No. 1 goalie available in our eyes.”
At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Lehner has the hulking size Murray desires in a goalie. And Lehner is no stranger to Murray, who served as Senators assistant general manager before taking over the job in Buffalo in January 2014.
With Ottawa, Murray also doubled as GM of the Senators AHL affiliate in Binghamton, where Lehner led the team to win the Calder Cup in 2011.
Selected in the second round of the 2009 draft, Lehner has a 30-26-15 record in 86 career NHL games. The Swedish-born goalie went 9-12-3 last season before being sidelined by a concussion.
Lehner was expendable in Ottawa after Andrew Hammond was called up midseason and led the Senators’ push to make the playoffs. The Senators also have an experienced veteran goalie in Craig Anderson.
Legwand is a 17-year NHL veteran, who had nine goals and 18 assists in 80 games last season, his first in Ottawa. Legwand has also played for Nashville and Detroit, and has 223 goals and 381 assists in 1,057 career games.
The Sabres acquired the No. 21 pick in a trade that sent forward Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders in October 2013. Buffalo also had the No. 25 pick, which it traded to the Winnipeg Jets as part of a deal to acquire forward Evander Kane and defenseman Zach Bogosian in February.
The Senators now have two first-round picks, including No. 18.
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