From this point forward, up to the start of the 2010 NHL regular season, I will be doing a "Grading Sather" segment on SB Nation New York. Here I will be grading all of Sather's off-season moves this year, one by one. Today we start off with the Martin Biron signing.
It might sound or seem insignificant, but the role of a backup goaltender in the NHL is a vital one. Today I did an "X Factors For 2010," and today was the Martin Biron edition.
The goaltending position in the NHL is a very underrated one, and behind every Stanley Cup winning team there is usually a solid backup goaltender. Their role on an NHL team is to simply keep the teams respective starting goaltender fresh and prepared for the NHL season and the potential long grind of the playoffs.
In the Rangers case, it was a position that hadn't been filled properly since the lockout. And Glen Sather knew that it was a pressure point for this upcoming season, and it was a pressure point that he alleviated by signing Martin Biron to a friendly two-year $1.75 million contract. That contract results in an $875K cap hit in each of the next two seasons.
That's a very nice price tag for a guy who was the unquestioned starter for both the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers previously in his career. Although one might assume that he wouldn't exactly be pleased with his role as a backup goaltender, it was a role that he already accepted last season during his one-year stint with the New York Islanders.
The Rangers aren't exactly looking for Biron to be superhuman, they are just looking for a solid option at the backup position. Let me tell you what they want with a quote from my "X Factors" post on Biron from earlier today:
The difference between a bad Biron and even simply a solid Biron is the difference between a playoff contender and a playoff pretender. In the end, the Rangers really would only be looking for a .500 record from Biron, I don't think anyone would complain if Biron went 9-9-2 on the year.
While those nine wins in 20 games doesn't seem like a lot, think about it. Not only is that 18 points on the year, but it also makes Lundqvist more fresh for his 62 games. Imagine how much better Lundqvist's record would have been if he were better rested throughout the season? Add that to the fact that Lundqvist was still his normal superhuman self last year and you have a recipe for success.
But the other thing that Biron brings to the table is security. If Lundqvist get injured (knock on wood) Biron is a proven veteran who can step in and fill the void. But what's just as important (and in the end more likely) is if Lundqvist tweaks something in a game (in which he could play but he should probably rest for a few days), Biron fills that void as well.
So back to the matter at hand, grading Sather on this particular move.
This was a move that the Rangers obviously needed, and Sather didn't waste any time in making it. The contract is brilliant, and it nabs a quality player at a necessary position for a cheap price. I also firmly believe that Biron was the best guy on the market as well, which only adds to the success of this move.
In the end, I don't think you can find a problem with this move at all.
Glen Sather's final grade on the Martin Biron signing: A+