It's finally here: The day we figure out just what is going to happen to Martin Gerber. He and Sens GM Bryan Murray are expected to sit down today and has out his options, because returning to the Ottawa Senators isn't one of them.
It remains to be seen if playing in the NHL at all is one of them, either. Apparently, as reported in the Calgary Sun, the Calgary Flames may be looking at Gerber as a possible backup and insurance policy for workhorse goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff, but that's certainly not a done deal--and it remains to be seen how it would be done (whether through trade or waiver-wire acquisition) if it is to be done. A few other teams have been rumoured at time to have interest in Gerber, so it's possible that if Calgary GM Darryl Sutter is actually interested, he could make a trade rather than run the risk of another team nabbing Gerber on re-entry waivers before Calgary gets the opportunity. The good thing for another team picking Gerber up on re-entry is that the receiving team would only face a cap hit of one-half of Gerber's remaining salary, an estimated $750k.
If there's not interest from other NHL squads, there's still the possibility of Gerber being 'loaned' to a European squad, which would at least get his salary off the books for the Senators.
And technically the AHL is still an option, but it seems unlikely. Owner Eugene Melnyk has said that he won't play major-league salaries to minor-league pro players, and one assumes the Gerber situation to date has been a one-time, short-term exception to try and get Gerber's salary unloaded. And Sens brass, including Tim Murray, have at least suggested that they wouldn't force Gerber to play in the AHL. Still, with an uncertainty in Binghamton's goaltending situation, fans would likely choose Gerber over their current situation.
Whatever happens, it's finally over. It might seem harsh for Sens fans to be celebrating, but I'd be willing to bet that Martin Gerber is more than ready to end this chapter of his professional hockey career and begin the next one himself.
UPDATE: Listening to Gord Wilson on the Team 1200 this afternoon, it sounds like Gerber is highly unlikely to head to a European team because they are so late in their season. Combined with the apparent fact that a trade with whichever GM is interested would include receiving the same cap hit as we'd be sending away, and the fact that Michael Sharp quoted Ottawa Director of Hockey Operations Brent Flahr as having said that re-entry waivers aren't an option for the Senators right now, maybe it's more likely that Gerber will be headed back to the AHL.