Some kind of day for Tim Murray, eh?
Just hours after pulling off the blockbuster of the year, the Buffalo Sabres general manager offered an encore, flipping his starting goaltender Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round selection in the 2016 draft.
The pick becomes a second rounder if Enroth wins four playoff games for the Stars this spring.
The lure for the rebuilding Sabres is obvious: add an asset that could provide value down the road. Oh, and it removes the one player who is capable of elevating the team out of the NHL's cellar, which is exactly where Buffalo wants to be at the end of the season. Adding a goaltender who has been absolutely brutal this season (3.71 GAA and .875 save percentage) all but ensures that the Sabres will reach that goal.
The needs were less cynical in Dallas. The Stars have been frustrated with their goaltending mix all season. Starter Kari Lehtonen is putting up the worst numbers of his five-year tenure with the club and had whittled away at the faith of the coaching staff by allowing far too many stoppable shots to blow by him. And with Lindback and third stringer Jussi Rynnas failing to offer any kind of alternative, and five critical back-to-back sets down the stretch, GM Jim Nill had to look outside the organization.
Enroth is a solid option. Not just as a backup, but as a legitimate challenge to Lehtonen. His record (13-21-2 with a .903 save percentage and 3.27 GAA) doesn't look like an improvement on the surface, but he put those numbers up while playing behind the most porous defense in the league. He's sure to look better playing behind a stronger possession team in Dallas (50.7% Corsi to Buffalo's 37.2%).
Plus, he's been solid in overtime and dynamite in the shootout, going 5-0 while stopping 20 out of a possible 21 shooters. To a team that's crawled to within three points of wild card berth in the Western Conference, that prowess in extra time could make the difference between making the cut and another early locker cleaning.
Back to Buffalo. The deal raises one obvious question: Who plays goal for the Sabres next season? It's possible that Enroth could re-sign with the team over the summer, much the way Matt Moulson did after being dealt to the Wild last season. But with Michal Neuvirth likely to traded as well before he can leave as a UFA, and Matt Hackett nowhere near to being ready, Murray may want to make at least one more deal to secure a keeper who can help the team down the road.