NHL teams might hand out huge goalie contracts like breath mints, but the dirty secret is that the position remains arguably the most unpredictable in the sport. Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson might just be the poster child for such a thought.
Just look at the peaks and valleys of his career since escaping backup duty in Florida for starter and platoon with the Colorado Avalanche and Senators:
2009-10 with Colorado: 38-25-7 record, .917 save percentage in 71 games played
2010-11 with Colorado: 13-15-3, .897 save percentage in 33 GP; 11-5-1 with a .939 save percentage in 18 games with the Sens
2011-12 (all remaining games with Ottawa): 33-22-6 with a .914 save percentage in 63 GP
2012-13: 12-9-2 with a .941 save percentage in 24 GP
2013-14: 25-16-8 with a .911 save percentage in 53 GP
Excluding his shaky early years with Chicago, Anderson puts up solid numbers … yet looking at how much things vacillate (and considering that even in his best seasons, weird things happen like chicken-cutting-related-injuries), how much would you really trust the 33-year-old?
The wisdom in waiting
The Senators extended Robin Lehner, which might imply to some that the answer is “Not much.” Still, the organization has at least opened up the conversation about a deal for Anderson … yet maybe they should pump the brakes there.
For one thing, it’s pretty difficult to argue authoritatively regarding whether the Senators should expect to be cellar dwellers, contenders or a team fighting for wild card scraps.
With that in mind, would it really be wise to lock up two goalies coming off shaky (at best) seasons?
Besides, contract year motivation isn’t usually the worst thing for a netminder. The easiest example to point out is that all four netminders in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final were fighting for new deals. Cap Geek is basically littered with examples of goalies who’ve seen curious drops in production once they signed beefy long-term contracts. Why lock yourself into a situation one way or another, then?
It’s tough to forecast what kind of season Anderson will produce in 2014-15, so the Senators might be best served opening themselves up to all of the possibilities.