It's old news by now, but the Ottawa Senators addressed their goaltending controversy the easy way: By sending Robin Lehner and his two-way contract down to the Binghamton Senators. For the time being, anyway.
In the past, I've criticized Lehner for failing to demonstrate the maturity necessary to become a full-time NHL goaltender. Some people are suggesting that remains the case, and serves as an explanation for his demotion. But I'm not buying it. This year, Lehner has responded positively to every challenge lately sent his way: He trained like a beast in the off-season and attended the rookie camp in the best shape he's ever been in, he battled against Ben Bishop in Binghamton and out-performed him, he came to Ottawa in a less-than-optimal three-goalie grouping without even whispers of unhappiness, and he's responded to the demotion perfectly. Some have made hay of his mention of the "politics" involved in the decision, but that's not an issue to me. It's a statement of fact made by a rightfully confident young goaltender, and it was surrounded by acceptance of the reality that he is left with one choice: Get to Binghamton and continue kicking ass.
As is often the case, the easiest explanation is the right one: The politics are why Lehner were sent to Binghamton. His two-way contract gave Ottawa the flexibility to temporarily avoid carrying three goaltenders, despite the fact that Lehner had once again proven that he is a better goaltender than (at least) one of his colleagues on the NHL roster.
But you may have noticed that I said temporarily, and that was intentional--and I think it will be, in ideal circumstances, a very temporary fix. Ben Bishop is a good goaltender, maybe very good, but he hasn't been better than Lehner is and he hasn't surpassed his Swedish counterpart on the depth chart except by virtue of the fact that he's on a one-way deal.
Why Robin Lehner was sent to Binghamton
Silver Seven | Jan 24