Craig Anderson

Poll: Anderson or Hamburglar in Ottawa’s net?

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Now that they shipped Robin Lehner to Buffalo, the Ottawa Senators face a more typical situation in net.

On paper, it’s actually pretty straightforward, especially if you’re looking at money. Craig Anderson is, theoretically, the clear No. 1 while Andrew Hammond stands as the probable backup.

Of course, the No. 2 guy also happened to save the Senators’ 2014-15 season and earn a lifetime supply of Mc-whatever-he’d-likes, so perhaps it’s not that simple.

A quick breakdown of Anderson vs. Hammond

Again, one would assume that Anderson, 34, at least gets the early edge.

With far more experience and a $4.2 million cap hit for the next three seasons, he makes the most logical sense. He’s also upped his game since coming to Ottawa, averaging a .920 save percentage in that span.

That said, you sort of know what you’re getting with Anderson, while “The Hamburglar” looms behind a mask of intrigue. Hammond only boasts 24 games of NHL experience at age 27, yet he was sensational. Ottawa needed just about all of his 20-1-2 run to make the playoffs, and that cannot be forgotten.

It’s plausible that this could end up being a platoon situation at times, but let’s narrow things down a bit: when Dave Cameron needs a win, which goalie should be turn to? Who should be in the net in a win-and-you’re-in regular season situation or a Game 7 in the playoffs?

Note: in tribute to Hammond’s out-of-left-field run in 2014-15, you can write in a different choice if you feel like the Senators have another random sensation waiting in the pipeline.

Under Pressure: Robin Lehner

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If you want a hockey example of “be careful what you wish for,” look no further than Robin Lehner.

He’s getting what he likely pined for during his time with the Ottawa Senators – the No. 1 gig – yet he’ll face a challenging situation in Buffalo.

It doesn’t help matters that Sabres fans cringed at the cost of acquiring Lehner.

Lehner cost a first-round draft pick in a loaded draft while the Senators also managed to unload David Legwand’s contract. The 24-year-old may need to do a little convincing early on.

A bumpy 2014-15 season

Whether it was crafty veteran Craig Anderson or fast-food sensation Andrew Hammond, Lehner couldn’t snare the starting gig in Ottawa, and things only got worse when concussion issues ended his season altogether.

It’s easy to forget that Lehner sports a perfectly respectable career save percentage (.914) because his 2014-15 season was so unsightly: 9-12-3 with a mediocre .905 save percentage.

Long story short, Lehner has plenty to prove after a bumpy start to his NHL career.

source: AP
Via AP

A big opportunity, but a huge challenge

That said, he’s definitely getting a fair shot with the Sabres and GM Tim Murray. Murray was nothing if optimistic about acquiring the big Swede, as the Ottawa Sun noted after the trade.

“I think Robin needed a change of scenery,” Murray said. “I think he’s a very talented, big strong, young man that is just scratching the surface and, hopefully, we can bring the best out of him.”

Some might roll their eyes at the idea of a change of scenery making a difference, yet it’s not without precedent. Steve Mason’s resurgence in Philadelphia argues that a struggling netminder can thrive after a career Etch-a-Sketch shake.

Granted, it won’t be easy; Lehner’s essentially going from a holding pattern in Ottawa to a trial by fire with Buffalo. What do you think: will he sink or swim?

Sens inquired about Coyotes’ third overall selection

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With the NHL Draft just days away now trade talk between teams is picking up.

Arizona Coyotes’ GM Don Maloney holds the third overall pick at Friday’s draft and hasn’t closed the door on dealing the selection for the right price.

Bryan Murray told reporters in Vegas on Tuesday that he had conversations with Maloney about the pick.

“I always ask the question, but I don’t think that pick in particular is in play at this point for us,” Murray said. “I think where we’re picking back at 18, that would be hard for him to move that far no matter what price I paid, but we have to ask the question anyway.”

Murray is currently in the process of trying to unload either Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner. The Sens’ general manager said Lehner is getting the most attention at this point.

“People look at the price and maybe look at other things, but Robin Lehner is a hell of a goaltender,” said Murray. “He’s going to perform given a chance, whether it be him getting the chance right away either with us or another team, he’s going to be a good goaltender.”

Lehner is considered to be more attractive than Anderson based on cap hit. The 23-year-old has two years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $2.225 million while Anderson has three years remaining at a cap it of $4.2 million.

“There’s going to be a couple moves. I think there’s three goaltenders really in play at the moment and there are a couple teams that are looking so what will happen based on that, I don’t know,” Murray said. “I think we should be the first choice.

“I think we’ve got the best guy. That’s my feeling and I’m very strong about that, but maybe not everybody looks at it that way.”

Zibanejad & Stone update

Murray met with Craig Oster the agent for restricted free agents Mika Zibanejad and Mark Stone on Tuesday in Vegas.

“We’ve made proposals once again and waiting on a reply I think they were going to talk to the players and see what happens,” said Murray.

Murray joked about Sens’ captain Erik Karlsson signing his seven-year, $45.5 million extension the night before the NHL Awards in Vegas back in June 2012 and the luck it brought him on awards night (he won the Norris Trophy).

“Well if Mark Stone is smart, he signs and he might win the award cause that’s what happened with Erik,” Murray said. “Maybe that’ll be the case.”

Stone is a finalist for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the league’s top rookie along with Aaron Ekblad and Johnny Gaudreau.

Arbitration for Hoffman & Chiasson

While Murray is making progress with Zibanejad and Stone, the same can’t be said for restricted free agents Mike Hoffman and Alex Chiasson.

“We talk to them all the time, but they’re arbitration guys that, at the moment, want to go that direction,” Murray said. “If we’re not going to negotiate, then we have to prepare for that.”

Chiarelli thinks Oilers will probably add a goalie before draft

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The Edmonton Oilers have captured headlines recently with their changes to their scouting department. If general manager Peter Chiarelli is right, the next big story involving Edmonton might involve the squad acquiring a goaltender.

“My guess is we’ll probably be able to do something before the draft,” Chiarelli told the Edmonton Sun. “But I’m not completely sure.

“At the end of the day it takes two to tango so you have to have the right deal in place. But I’m not averse to going to the free agent market, either.”

He noted that getting a goaltender is a bit of a buyers market as there are several noteworthy netminders on the block. It’s believed that the New York Rangers want to move Cam Talbot, the Ottawa Senators need to trade Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner, and the Vancouver Canucks are open to dealing Eddie Lack.

The fact that Edmonton controls six of the first 86 selections in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft should also help its ability to secure a goaltender in the coming days.

That being said, if the Oilers don’t trade for a netminder, there will likely be options available to them on the open market. Antti Niemi, Jhonas Enroth, and Devan Dubnyk are among those that might test the free agent waters.

What noteworthy players might get moved at the draft?

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June 26th is the day that Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will finally be drafted, but that’s not all that will happen. Each year there are typically some major trades made just before or during the draft. In that spirit, here are some of the popular candidates to be moved this time around:

Phil Kessel — Toronto is looking to go in a new direction and it seems likely that will involve Kessel finding a new home. The big question though is if Toronto can get what it would consider fair value for him. Toronto is reportedly willing to take on a contract to make his $8 million cap hit through 2021-22 more palatable, but it would still be difficult for many contending teams to take him on. At the same time, Kessel has five 30-plus goal seasons under his belt and has reached the 80-point mark on two occasions. He doesn’t have much playoff experience, but he has scored 13 goals and 21 points in 23 postseason games.

Patrick Sharp — Chicago has had to part ways with a lot of talented players over the last several years in order to stay under the cap. The Blackhawks once again have cap issues after winning its third Stanley Cup in six years. They might be able to address it without moving Sharp, but he’ll be 34 years old in December and he has two more years with a $5.9 million cap hit, so now might be the time to move him from a value perspective. Speaking of which:

It would be surprising to see Chicago get that, but this might also be a case of the Blackhawks starting the bidding high so they have something to work down from.

Cam Talbot — In two seasons with the Rangers, Talbot has a 2.00 GAA and .931 save percentage in 51 games. That’s made him the ideal understudy, but it also means that the Rangers aren’t likely to retain his services when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016. With that in mind, it would make sense for New York to move him now, especially seeing as there’s reportedly considerable interest in him. As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted, Talbot isn’t eligible to sign an extension until Jan. 1, 2016, which means any team acquiring him will have an increased risk of watching him walk as a free agent. That might hurt the Rangers’ return a bit.

Kyle Okposo — He is a recent addition to the rumor mill as Newsday’s sources said that he could be on the trading block. Okposo only has a year left on his contract and while he currently comes with an affordable $2.8 million cap hit, he’s due for a big raise after recording 120 points in 131 games over the last two seasons. Still the Islanders have cap space to spare and they’re only now emerging as serious contenders, so it would be surprising to see them turn around and trade Okposo this summer. He certainly wouldn’t be the first player moved to catch people off guard though.

Craig Anderson/Robin Lehner — When the Ottawa Senators decided to sign Andrew Hammond to a three-year extension, it all-but guaranteed that they would move a goaltender this summer. The only question is which one. Lehner is just 23 years old (24 in July) and is locked in for two more years at roughly $2.2 million. That would be a pretty good deal if he lived up to his potential, but he’s had a rough couple of years. Anderson was the better netminder in 2014-15, but the fact that he’s 34 years old and still has three years left on his contract at $4.2 million per might give other general managers pause.

This shouldn’t be taken as a complete list, just a sampling of some of the more interesting cases.