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So some of you may be wondering why I'm so obsessed interested in Buffalo Sabres prospect Jhons Enroth, and specifically the prospects of the Avs acquiring the young Swede. After doing some research I'm more convinced than ever the Avs should be lobbying the Sabres in trying to pry Enroth away.

It all starts from my belief in goaltenders. The Avs aren't going to be able to solve their goaltending prospect by trading for a number one (unless somehow JS Giguere inexplicably becomes available) and they aren't going to solve it in Free Agency this summer. Many fans want to see a #1, but there really isn't one available. I think the Avs best option is trading for a prospect and patching the crease with an ok goalie until that prospect develops.

Enter Enroth. The goalie is #38 on hockey prospects top-50 list and the 4th highest rated goalie. The 3 above him (Carey Price, Jonathon Bernier, and Ondrej Pavelec) are not going to be moved. (Tuukka Rask, for some reason, isn't rated higher, but he's not going anywhere either so the point is moot). With Ryan Miller in the Sabres net for a long time (signed through 2013) I have speculated that Enroth should become the Avs top target, as the top rated available goaltender.

To be sure he's the right target for the Avs, I contacted Chris Roy at Maine Hockey Journal (and covers the Sabres AHL affiliate: Portland Pirates), and asked him about Enroth.

I can answer your questions about Enroth fairly easy.


It would take the world to get Enroth away from the Sabres because behind Miller and Enroth they don’t have very much in goalie depth.


Besides, he’s a couple years away from getting a sniff in the NHL. He needs to learned the North American game and adjusts to the angles and the play in front of the net. He’s got lightning quick reflexes, but to put the whole package together will take him a bit of time.


Enroth is a pretty mellow dude. Nothing seems to get him worked up and nothing seems to knock him down…. I don’t want to say a typical Euro, but he’s a cool cat and doesn’t let things bother him.


I hope I was able to answer your questions and good luck with the story.

Hmm. Well he certainly sounds like he could be the answer in net, but maybe a little green. No matter though, I'd still rather see the Avs get this one right and a quick goalie, with a Hackett coaching him, is just the kind of goalie the Avs need.

So I also asked some Sabres bloggers what it would take to pry Enroth away.
Amy V, of the Sabres blog shots off the crossbar had some pretty strong opinions on Enroth.
I don't think the Sabres would be willing to trade Enroth. If they were, the offer would have to be really, really, really, really sweet and out of this world. Outside of Enroth, there's not a lot of high quality goalies in the Sabres pipeline. Miller is the now. Enroth is the future. Regier isn't going to be willing to trade the future for a playoff run now. Besides, this season is only his first playing in the States. I think he needs at least one more year in the minors and then at least a year understudying Miller. This schedule would kind of mesh with Patty Lalime's contract situation, as Lalime is signed in Buffalo through next season. But as of right now, there's not a concrete enough argument against the Sabres re-signing Lalime to backup Miller.
Well that doesn't look too promising. Luckily, some of the other Sabres bloggers had a little better outlook. Kevin from BfloBlog had this to say:
Jhonas Enroth could certainly be available, but Buffalo would be looking for younger players with multiple years remaining under contract or team control. In my opinion, Enroth's value increases more next year if he shows he is ready to move up to the NHL level. If he gets to the trade deadline next year with another year behind him like he is having this year I would imagine his value would be even higher. Of course, he could tank. Chance you take, right?
Errr, ummm. Hmm not sounding good. DO from Die By the Blade offers some more thoughts:

The Sabres do appear to be set in Goal for the forseeable future but that doesn't mean they are in a hurry to trade away Jhonas Enroth. If we have learned one thing about Darcy Regier, he is a patient man. This became painfully evident when the Sabres hung on to Martin Biron for far too long before finally trading him to Philadelphia. Enroth is a young kid that figures to have a promising future. I think the Sabres would be better served to let him develop in Portland as a backup plan and revisit this scenario in a couple of seasons.
Yikes. Ok. And for the final thought here, I went to Anne from Sabretooth's House
As far as Enroth is concerned, I definitely could see him as trade bait but maybe not this season. The Sabres will want to test him out a little more in the North American game and test out the possibility of him as a backup when Lalime's contract expires next season. I have a feeling that if they moved him, there would have to be a goalie prospect or back-up goalie as part of the deal.

But, if the price was right, I could see him going packaged with a player for that top 6 forward or defenseman. Darcy Regier doesn't do big and splashy deals so if he were to make a big trade this season it would be for a UFA that isn't a headline grabber or a player with some contract left.
Well ok then. Enroth is a can't miss prospect the Sabres have little interest in trading... but despite the discouragement what do the Sabres need?
DO from Die by the Blade
Teppo Numminen is starting to show his age and every defensemen on the team, with the exception of Toni Lydman, has missed time due to injury.

It's not just defense where the Sabres need help. They have relied upon only a few forwards to provide their offensive output and come playoff time that won't be enough. Until the return of Tim Connolly it was clear the Sabres needed a second line Center but if Connolly stays healthy, they would be better served with a big Forwrad. Thomas Vanek is not afraid to stand in front of the net but in his absence the Sabres have struggled to find someone that is willing to consistently pay the price.
Anne from Sabretooth's house:
Absolutely, the Sabres need blueline depth. I'd say we have 5 NHL defensemen in Lydman, Tallinder, Numminen, Spacek, and Rivet. However, Teppo might retire this season and we'd need another veteran to ease the transition after he retires. Butler and Sekera are young and improving all the time but we'd still need a vet.

In terms of acquiring players for the post season, definitely a defenseman (interested in giving us Liles?!) and a top 6 forward. Right now Vanek, Roy, Stafford, Connolly, Pominville are all definitely top 6 forwards with other players showing flashes of brilliance but a top 6 winger would be dandy.
Kevin from BfloBlog:

As for what Colorado specifically could offer to Buffalo, you could dream and start with Liles, I guess. But why would Colorado give up on him as he is signed to a reasonable deal for three more years? Salei would be interesting, as you would at least get one more year out of him and the Sabres will probably lose Jaroslav Spacek after this season and Teppo Numminen is likely to retire. On the other hand, they love Mike Weber and Chris Butler, two prospects who have played well with a bunch of blue liners injured, and they would complete a defense of Tallinder, Lydman, Rivet, Sekera, Weber and Butler next year.

Looking at forwards, Colorado does not have a lot of players that aren't free agents after this season (you guys are going to be busy). Hejduk looks underpaid, and who doesn;t want a scoring winger? But just like with Liles, Colorado would be looking to get more than just Enroth at that point.

Amy from Shots off the Crossbar
I really think the Sabres will need some blue line help in order to make a serious postseason run. At one point last month, the team hit 11th on their defensive depth chart, and I was worried that the team would have to pull Lindy or James Patrick off the bench to take up the slack. I think the young guys we have on defense (Butler, Weber and Sekera) all play well, but they've each been known to have off moments that I think a veteran wouldn't have. Butler, in particular, has had a couple of brutal games.
Ok so what would it take to actually pry Enroth away? We'll start with the most pessemistic, in my eyes, DO from Die By the Blade
I don't think that any team would be willing to give up what the Sabres would ask for a Goalie like Enroth. In addition to his incredible talent we can't forget that the cupboard is nearly bare for the Sabres beyond Enroth. It could be a couple seasons before we see Enroth in the NHL but when we do, it will be in a Sabres uniform.
In order to not completely lose that buzzkill, I'll go to Anne at Sabretoothe's House
I could see Buffalo giving Enroth, a prospect (I read your post and Gogulla might be movable) and maybe a later (4th+) pick for a defenseman. I was looking over Salei Liles and Leopold and they all have strengths that entice me as a Sabres fan. We need that elusive puck moving defenseman which is why Liles catches my interest. Also, from a personal side of things, he and Ryan Miller are close friends and anything that keeps Ryan Miller happy keeps Buffalo happy.
And finally, Amy from Shots off the Crossbar
If we're looking to trade players, I'd take either Liles or Leopold off the Avs hands. Both are good quality players, young, yet old enough to be considered responsible veterans. The only drawback is Liles salary. That would make him the second highest paid player on the team and Regier isn't known to make deals that will bring in huge salaries. And he also wouldn't do the rent-a-player thing with Leopold, either.
The answer was pretty conclusive. He's available, but they Sabres are completely devoid of goalie prospects besides Enroth, so he'll be expensive. The good news for the Avs is that if they really wanted to get Enroth, they have the pieces the Sabres need, for the most part. I see the Sabres looking for goalie depth (Peter Delmas maybe) and a defenseman (Leopold or Liles or even Salei). Enroth will be tough to pry, but I think the Avs should take a serious look at trying. Now, with Ryan Miller on the shelf, a young capable back-up locked in for a few years (Say Peter Budaj) should be even more tempting to the Sabres as well.

We'll let Kevin from BfloBlog have the (almost) final word:

But I am not sure Buffalo management feels this is "the year" to make a big move. With the team sitting in seventh or eight all year, I don't think the Sabres are likely to part with prospects unless a player coming back could have a longer-term impact than through the end of the year. That's not something most teams will be looking to move at the deadline. I could see them giving up a draft pick or two for the usual trade deadline fare like a Tkachuk or someone else of his ilk.

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After reading the Sabres' bloggers reactions to my questions, I'm not so sure Enroth is the best plan. If the Avs had some decent goaltending porospects they could give up in return, in order to boost the Sabres farm system, the story might be different. Alas Buffalo Gm Darcy Reiger is a cuatious GM and certainly doesn't seem like the guy to trade an asset away just for a long-shot chance at a cup.

That being said, Ryan Miller just went down with injury, and the Avs do have some nice assets that could fit nicely into Buffalo's system. Both Ruslan Salei and Brett Clark wouold bolster the Buffalo defensive corps, and they are signed for another season. I don't see Buffalo all that interested in a rental player, so I don't think Leopold is all that valuable for them. JM Liles is good friends with Miller, signed for a number of years, and has been mentioned briefly in trade talks this season.

My final verdict would be: offer the Sabres Salei or Clark, Budaj (to back-up Miller long Term) , and a goalie to boost their farm system (Jason Bacashihua, or Billy Sauer) for Enroth and draft picks. If it seems liek there's something there, start the negotiating, if not look for ssomeone else.



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A Special thanks to the Buffalo, and Pirates, bloggers at BfloBlog, Die by the Blade, Shots off the crossbar, Sabretooth's House and Maine Hockey Journal for taking the time to answer my silly questions.