Provided as further proof that the NHL is a funny place, the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche today swapped their starting goalies. Craig Anderson, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season, is headed to Ottawa in exchange for Brian Elliott. Ottawa and Colorado both appear to be teams bound to miss the playoffs and both goalies have had off years this season. If you find this deal to be a bit perplexing, you’re not alone.
Anderson this season is 13-15-3 with a 3.28 goals against average and a .897 save percentage. Elliott, meanwhile, is 13-19-8 with 3.19 goals against and a .894 save percentage. Anderson last season was beyond outstanding in leading the Avs to the playoffs posting a 2.62 goals against and a ridiculous .933 save percentage and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy eventually won by Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.
Anderson is an impending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season but he’s a guy that the Senators have liked for some time now and the feeling is that they’ll look to re-sign him at year’s end. Having him be a mentor to goalie of the future Robin Lehner would make sense. For now, Anderson’s new teammate Pascal Leclaire would appear to be done as a Senator after this season as he’s also an unrestricted free agent-to-be at the end of the season. Leclaire’s injury-speckled career and Lehner’s ability to move right into a job in the NHL means he’ll be the odd man out in the Sens plans for next season. Anderson, meanwhile, could just end up being a Senator for the next couple of months and then get out of town if he’d like. Ahh, the perils of free agency.
Brian Elliott moving on to Colorado is a bit of a surprising move but it appears that Colorado was looking to get a guy they believe can start and one they can maintain control of at the end of the year. Peter Budaj is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, meanwhile Elliott will be a restricted free agent. By obtaining Elliott they won’t be looking to dive into free agency head first to look for one or two new goalies. Instead, they can look to retain Elliott and then decide if they want to bring back Budaj or look elsewhere for a goalie.
Seeing a goalie dealt for a goalie straight up is indeed quite rare and not seen last since Toronto and Boston made a rather fateful deal in which the Maple Leafs obtained Andrew Raycroft from the Bruins in exchange for Tuukka Rask. We’re thinking the Leafs want a do-over on that one.