Senators should trade Anderson
Photo courtesy of vavel.com
Craig Anderson is in the midst of another superb campaign in which he has been the backbone of the Ottawa Senators . . . but it’s time to trade the 33-year-old goaltender.
Anderson, at the time of writing this article, has registered a .929 save percentage, ranking him fourth in the league and second among active starting goaltenders. He posted similar numbers back in the lockout shortened season when he put up a .941 SV% in 24 games. While his .911 SV% last season was decent, it pales in comparison to his current body of work—it’s worth noting his career .916 SV% is well above-average for a starter.
So we’re in all agreement that Anderson is a stud between the pipes, right? Good. Let’s turn our attention to the Senators. Currently eight points removed from the final wild card spot, it doesn’t appear as if Ottawa will go on a late season tear and sneak into the post-season. Their possession numbers are still below-average with a 49.1 Corsi For percentage at even-strength, according to waronice.com, and depth remains an issue as they sit in the league basement in total spending.
For the Senators to improve they will first have to establish the puck-possession game that helped them make the playoffs back in the 2012-13 season, in which they registered a 53.7 Corsi For percentage. While their goaltending was unsustainably hot during that shortened season, the Senators had focused on effective systems designed to maintain pressure and long-term success without relying on high shooting percentages and hot goaltending.
Beyond that, Ottawa is still in the process of developing youth and building a core for the immediate and distant future. At 33, Anderson isn’t the ideal candidate to remain between the pipes, especially with 23-year-old Robin Lehner ready to jump in. While his .900 SV% this season is by no means impressive, a 16-game sample size doesn’t do him justice when you consider his career .914 SV% in 77 games. Lehner has a full decade of play before he’s Anderson’s age, so there’s upside in anointing him the starter now and allowing him to develop with a young core. Moreover, considering Anderson is playing at a level above his career average, it would be a shrewd move by general manager Bryan Murray to ship him out while his trade value is bursting at the seams.
While the Minnesota Wild have imported Devan Dubnyk via trade as their starting goaltender, there’s no telling what could happen between now and the trade deadline and Anderson represents a more established option between the pipes. The Edmonton Oilers could also use an upgrade in net but Anderson might be too old to be a viable option. Still, his extension kicks in at the start of next season and runs throughout the 2017-18 campaign at a reasonable $4.2-million cap-hit, so his contract has value and should be easily moveable.
Speculation aside, the Senators are sitting on a golden egg in Anderson that could be moved in return for young assets or draft picks, especially in a strong draft year. From the Senators perspective, there’s no upside in retaining the services of their 33-year-old starting goaltender, especially with Lehner riding pine.