The Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche swapped their starting goalies today, hoping both once-promising netminders will become reinvigorated by a change of scenery.
Both netminders, Craig Anderson and Brian Elliott hold more similarities than struggling for non-contending teams. Neither ‘tender was expected to make the big show with Anderson playing parts of five seasons in the AHL before sticking in the NHL while the Sens took a 9th round flier on Elliott and let him spend four years in college before spending parts of three seasons in the AHL. In addition, both netminders burst onto the scene last year, earning starting jobs and helped their teams make the playoffs.
That was their prior history and their relationship with their former club is now just that, history.
In Elliott, the Avs receive simply a different netminder. While Elliott holds less NHL experience than Anderson, he is four years younger and thus keeps his RFA status. Considering the team would not have re-signed Andy and long-time backup Peter Budaj becomes a UFA next year, they at least solidified their backup role.
Known for somewhat shoddy goaltending throughout the history of the franchise, Elliott set team records last year by winning nine consecutive games last year. Earlier in the year he also won six straight, which added up to a career-high 29 wins. Although his fortune clearly changed with the Sens’ regression, he appears to be a capable NHL goalie with the ability of getting hot and did so with another five-game streak earlier in the year.
Colorado is hoping Elliott can catch fire and get the Avs back into playoff contention.
Currently they sit 11 points out of a playoff spot which created this urgency for a change between the pipes. The Avs still have a chance, although their hopes disintegrate by the day with injuries to Matt Duchene, TJ Galiardi, Kyle Cumiskey, Adam Foote, Jonas Holos, Tomas Fleischmann, Kyle Quincey and of course, “The Savior” Peter Mueller.
On the other hand, Ottawa goes in a new direction with Anderson.
Even though the 29-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, the Sens are expected to retain his services. Similar to the Avs of last year, Ottawa is also expected to go into a full-blown rebuild with a few key parts.
In fact, the two teams somewhat mirror each other.
Last year the Avs started with Paul Stastny as their number one center and rookie Matt Duchene as their number two. Next year the Sens could do just that with Jason Spezza as the number one and their likely lottery pick– probably one of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog or Sean Couturier– taking over a secondary scoring role. Their similarities, however, do not end there. Chris Phillips spells Adam Foote on the blue line as the leader and defensive stalwart while Daniel Alfredsson would play a similar role as Milan Hejduk.
Acquiring Anderson spells the exit for often-injured Pascal Leclaire, whose subtraction could help the culture of the locker room. Clearly, Anderson knows how to handle a heavy workload and bring confidence to a team that looked doomed on paper– last season, he led the League with 2047 saves.
Similar to most of the trades made this season, both players should benefit their new team. In this salary cap era we will continue to see “good hockey trades” considering the age of salary dumps or high-risk gambles seem to be eliminated. Good deal for both players in real life as a change of scenery should help them out, but watch them thoroughly, unless desperate, before thinking about adding either.
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