Goalies a 'tender issue for Murray

ERIN NICKS

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

If you are to believe some media's interpretation of the Senators' current goaltending conundrum, all that needs to be accomplished is the following:

Re-sign Ray Emery.

Trade Martin Gerber.

Sit back and admire one's handiwork.

Apologies for being the bearer of obvious news, but if it were that easy, wouldn't it be done by now?

If Ray Emery goes to arbitration on July 24, the first issue will resolve itself in one form or another fairly quickly. It's the second dilemma that seems to be tripping everyone up.

The idea rolls off their tongues with such ease, but after scratching beyond the surface they realize that Gerber and his remaining $7.4-million salary (all terms US) is an issue with no clear solution.

Ultimately, the daunting math gives way to simple addition and subtraction. Ottawa has two goalies. If you remove one, you're going to need to replace him with another.

Here's another instance where Ottawa is feeling the pinch of a highly depleted farm team in Binghamton.

Once richly maintained, the Senators' minor-league system has been mortgaged to feed the current roster's requirements.

Ottawa doesn't have a groomed third man waiting in the wings for a call-up.

No disrespect meant to Jeff Glass, but last year's 9-24 record and 4.11 GAA with Bingo are not the highest of selling points. The 22-year-old still requires a major amount of polish before legitimate consideration could be made.

Emery was able to prove himself worthy of the No. 1 position last year, but there are few goaltenders in the league capable of bearing the brunt of 70 games or more per season.

Emery is not one of them.

So if the addition cannot be homegrown, the Senators will have to look elsewhere for their backup. That's what makes a potential trade idea like Gerber to Phoenix for D Derek Morris seem all the more preposterous.

Why would the Senators want to pile on additional salary (Morris is set to earn $3.9 million next season) in a trade that wouldn't aid in the position they are immediately attempting to remedy?

Any team looking to improve in the goaltending department isn't going to possess what Ottawa requires in net.

$3.7M QUESTION MARK

If a franchise already had something sufficient, or a diamond in the rough signed to an enviable contract, why would they want replace such a backstopper with a $3.7-million question mark?

Short of committing the ultimate salary dump -- trading the Swiss-born 'tender for a song and allotting a portion of his former income to a free-agent backup -- the Senators would still need another team to take a financial risk for them.

Ironically, after all the freewheeling we have witnessed on the open market during this off-season, No. 29's paycheque now seems in line with other league spending. But tell that to a franchise with reservations (and a back pressed squarely against the salary cap).

Bryan Murray may want to trade Gerber, but he can't cut off the nose to spite the Senators' face.

It will require a delicate balancing act to ensure that Ottawa's net and wallet are not left sparely filled -- and it's a move that could set the tone for Murray's tenure as GM in this city.

However, don't be surprised if the other shoe fails to drop before Emery's situation is settled.

After all, who knows how much longer Gerber will reign as the highest paid goaltender in the city?

Right now, there's no clear-cut answer on how to deal with Gerber.

But if Murray finds him too difficult to unload, with Emery standing by in the meantime, palms outstretched, the solution may be thrust upon the GM far quicker than he expected.


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