The Ottawa Senators made a very bold move today, locking up soon-to-be 30-year-old netminder Craig Anderson to a four-year contract worth $12.75 million dollars. Considering his age and shaky track record, paying 3.2 million for a goaltender with only two career playoff wins — all coming last year — spread over seven seasons in the NHL is certainly a risky move. In fact, Andy has started 30 games only two seasons in his career, both over the last two seasons.
Yet, the Senators felt the need to lock up a player who in the grand scheme of things has only started 11 games for them before missing the last two games with an undisclosed, lower-body injury. When you combine his brief success with his injury history, he likely fits the Sens prototype for injury plagued netminders.
However, the team will try their luck with the best goaltender they have had all season. With his current statistics (6-4-0, 2.11 GAA, .938 SV%), Anderson has played better than any netminder in Ottawa this year, as referenced by the below table.
As you can see, Anderson blows away Pascal Leclaire, Robin Lehner and Brian Elliott, paving the way for the two veterans to leave the system one way or another. Perhaps the Senators brass should have let Curtis McElhinney play a few more games before re-signing Anderson as the former could make a similar argument for an extension based on the microscopic sample size.
Regardless, this Illinois native comes over to the Senators following a pre-deadline day trade in which he was jettisoned from the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were in fact the only team to give Anderson a try after a few years in South Florida following a few terrible seasons with the equally terrible Chicago Blackhawks.
If you ask an Avalanche fan their opinion of Andy, they likely will tell you one of two tales. One, was the goalie who stood on his head and did everything for the team; the second was a player who gave up on his team as he chose to hold out for more money following only one decent season as an NHL starting goalie.
Presumably with a new contract, the latter goalie will not show up. The Senators at least hope that is the case considering their poor history with netminders. But what happens if he once again declares himself unhappy?
One thing is for sure, Lehner will not be taking over the starting duties any time soon as he figures to spend likely at least two more seasons entrenched in the AHL. At only 19-years-old, Lehner can afford to learn at a slower development curve.
So the Sens have their goalie of now and of the forseable future. Although it’s incredibly hard to project a netminder with only 11 career starts on a poor team, he is certainly much better than his final games in Colorado.
At this point in time Anderson remains out with a lower-body injury which is “nothing to worry about.” Let’s hope it stays that way in Ottawa.
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