When Ottawa GM Bryan Murray cleaned house leading up to and on the day of the trade deadline, the one acquisition he made that seemed curious at the time was his deal that sent goalie Brian Elliott to Colorado in favor of goalie Craig Anderson. After all, Anderson was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and the Senators have young phenom goalie Robin Lehner waiting in the wings. It appeared that the future was to be Lehner’s to seize and the Senators were finally starting to rebuild.
Turns out, Anderson is the guy they liked a lot. A whole lot. They like him so much they rewarded the 29 year-old veteran with a four-year extension worth $12.75 million. If this strikes you as curious, you’re not alone but Murray says that locking up Anderson makes sense for them.
“We feel he’s brought stability. The position is one that we need if you’re going to retool, rebuild and improve this hockey club going forward.” said Murray. “Craig has stepped in on our team to play the way we think we have to play. With that secure building block, now we can address some other issues.
“He was a guy that we felt we had a chance to sign. The numbers made sense for us.”
Keep in mind here that Anderson has played for the Senators for less than a month now and while he’s played great, considering how poorly he was playing while in Colorado this year this kind of commitment leaves us a bit dumbfounded. Don’t get us wrong, Anderson can be a tremendous goalie, as evidenced by his Vezina Trophy finalist season with the Avalanche last year, but a four-year deal is huge for a guy that’s been an NHL starter now for just two seasons.
Murray says that he wants Lehner to spend next season in the AHL to continue developing and that’s all well and good but if he develops rapidly and becomes an NHL-ready goalie sooner than expected, what then? Having a goalie with a cap hit of $3.18 million per year that’s either riding the bench or splitting time evenly is a tremendous waste of money. Trying to trade a guy like that is even more difficult to do in the cap era.
It’s a fascinating move by Ottawa who appears to be mostly committed to changing things around with the roster there but if this is a sign for what’s to come in the offseason in regards to free agency, perhaps Senators fans will want to hang on to their butts and hope this is the only questionable contract that gets done for the future.