It’s going to be an interesting summer for the Ottawa Senators.
With the Captain on the trade block and some openings expected in the team’s top six forwards, there are some important decisions for Bryan Murray and his staff to tackle over the next few months. We’ve talked about it at length but with five key players entering the last year of their contract, the Senators also have to look ahead to next summer and decide on the direction they plan to take with those guys. And while they don’t need to make any moves on that front until the summer of 2015, you know Murray will start those conversations on July 1.
Of those five, the future of Craig Anderson is seemingly the most influx. Still considered the number one goalie for this team, Anderson is entering the final year of a four year contract that saw him earn an average of $3,187,500 a season. As of July 1, 2015, Anderson will be an unrestricted free agent.
It’s no secret at this point- Robin Lehner is waiting in the wings and has been hunting down the number one role for the past couple seasons. Lehner started 12 games in the lockout shortened season, posting a .936 save percentage and a 2.20 GAA. Predictably Lehner regressed a little bit last season, but played more often, starting 36 games and posting a .913 save percentage and a 3.06 GAA.
He filled in admirably on a couple of occasions when Anderson missed time due to injury. If he’s not ready to take on the number one role, he’s darn close. Lehner is a restricted free agent this summer and is negotiating a few different options with the team including a longer term deal as well as a bridge contract, believed to be 2 years in length.
And this is where Murray has to decide what the plan if for Anderson. Both sides have said all the right things so far. The Senators like the idea of having two capable goalies and Anderson has certainly enjoyed his time here in Ottawa. Anderson is 33 years old and is probably looking for a similar contract to his last one on that next contract. I’m certain the starting job in Florida was of interest to Anderson but with Luongo there, that option seems to have gone out the window.
So as much as Ottawa can say they like the idea of having two capable goalies, it’s hard to see them committing to Anderson long term with Lehner there and ready to take over the number one role. This is where the trade option has to be considered. It’s always hard to get a read on the market for goalies for an experienced guy at a reasonable cap hit and with limited term on his deal has to be of interest around the league.
I don’t believe the Senators enter this off season with the intent of dealing Anderson but if a team came calling, they would have to listen. And I suspect that will be the case throughout the season and leading up to next year’s deadline. If Ottawa did deal Anderson, there are some decent veteran free agent options that they could consider as Lehner’s back up.
Whether it happens this summer or during the season, the Ottawa Senators are going to have to make a decision on Craig Anderson’s future with the team.