When the Craig Anderson signing was announced earlier in the week, two prevailing opinions standout:
- People don’t like the length of the contract’s term; or
- People like the deal and cite the question “Who else could the Senators have brought in?”, to support their argument.
Well, since I’ve already tackled the length of the term issue, it’s probably appropriate to speak on the latter subject.
When Bryan Murray announced the signing on Monday, he said, "Obviously, we feel that he's brought stability. His position is one that we need if you're going to retool, rebuild, and improve this hockey club going forward. I believe our players have played with confidence with both Curtis and him. But very definitely, Craig has stepped in and allowed our team to play hockey the way that we think we need to play going forward. With that secure building block, now we can address some other issues."
If you infer from Murray’s comments, it sounds like he considers Anderson to be somewhat of a proven commodity. (You can make our own judgment on whether the 10 or so games of experience with the Senators organization is a large enough sample size to make this evaluation.) In fairness to Murray, the players do seem to be playing more comfortably… although, that might have more to do with the loss of Brian Elliott than is being given credit for.
" When I made the trade to acquire him to start off with, he was a guy that in real form, we had a real chance to get him here and get talking to him to sign. There were other goaltenders, very few unrestricted this year. The numbers made sense for us in that we know that Phoenix had a goaltender and Calgary had a goaltender that were going to be unrestricted. And certainly out of respect to them and their organizations, I really feel that they'll be kept with the... it's not Calgary, it's Florida that I meant. They will probably try and keep their goaltender," Murray said, "Getting Craig here and getting a chance to know him. I've watched him play for a number of years in this league. So I know the real Craig Anderson. I know the guy in Florida. I know the guy in Colorado. I just wanted to see him fit in this room; what he could bring to a younger group. Give us some confidence and stability and I believe that he's done that."
So if Tomas Vokoun and Ilya Bryzgalov were never seriously considered as options, Anderson was the best of the lot that can only be described as the NHL’s scrapheap. Hell, the free agent list reads more like the names on the tombstones in Ottawa’s goaltending graveyard. Assuming Brian Elliott gets non-tendered as a restricted free agent by Colorado, he’d join the likes of Gerber, Auld, Lalime, Leclaire, Mike Brodeur, McElhinney, and Ray Emery as unrestricted free agents. (Note: I pored over the list of names on Capgeek and there was no mention of Mike Morrison as being available. Poor Mike Morrison.)
Without any pressure on the Senators to contend or vie for a playoff spot next season, I suppose one could make the argument that there shouldn’t been any pressure on Murray to lock Anderson up for so long. That he could have made a traded for a young understudy or waited until July 1st to see what the market for Anderson would bear. In the event that Anderson walked, Murray possibly could have inked a one or two year stopgap could have sufficed. Under such circumstances, Robin Lehner might prove himself ready after a full season in the AHL or perhaps someone more talented could become available in free agency.
The following is a list of the 30 NHL teams and their respective goaltenders. In parentheses will be the free agent status and the year that their current contract expires (Hat tip to Jonathan Willis from Houses of the Hockey for the preliminary list.):
Anaheim Ducks: Jonas Hiller (UFA in 2014), Dan Ellis (UFA in 2012), Ray Emery (UFA in 2011)
Atlanta Thrashers: Ondrej Pavelec (RFA in 2012), Chris Mason (UFA in 2012)
Boston Bruins: Tim Thomas (UFA in 2013), Tuukka Rask (RFA in 2012)
Buffalo Sabres: Ryan Miller (UFA in 2014), Jhonas Enroth (RFA in 2011), Patrick Lalime (UFA in 2011)
Calgary Flames: Miikka Kiprusoff (UFA in 2014), Henrik Karlsson (UFA in 2011), Leland Irving (RFA in 2011)
Carolina Hurricanes: Cam Ward (UFA in 2016), Justin Peters (RFA in 2012), Mike Murphy (RFA in 2012)
Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford (RFA in 2011), Marty Turco (UFA in 2011), Alexander Salak (RFA in 2011)
Colorado Avalanche: Peter Budaj (UFA in 2011), Brian Elliott (RFA in 2011)
Columbus Blue Jackets: Steve Mason (RFA in 2013), Mathieu Garon (UFA in 2011)
Dallas Stars: Kari Lehtonen (UFA in 2013), Andrew Raycroft (UFA in 2012), Jack Campbell (RFA in 2013)
Detroit Red Wings: Jimmy Howard (UFA in 2013), Chris Osgood (UFA in 2011)
Edmonton Oilers: Devan Dubnyk (RFA in 2012), Nikolai Khabibulin (UFA in 2013), Martin Gerber (UFA in 2011)
Florida Panthers: Tomas Vokoun (UFA in 2011), Scott Clemmensen (UFA in 2012), Jacob Markstrom (RFA in 2013)
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick (UFA in 2013), Jonathan Bernier (RFA in 2013)
Minnesota Wild: Niklas Backstrom (UFA in 2013), Jose Theodore (UFA in 2011), Josh Harding (UFA in 2011)
Montreal Canadiens: Carey Price (RFA in 2012), Alex Auld (UFA in 2011)
Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne (UFA in 2012), Anders Lindback (RFA in 2012), Chet Pickard (RFA in 2013)
New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur (UFA in 2012), Johan Hedberg (UFA in 2011)
New York Islanders: Rick DiPietro (FA Never), Evgeni Nabokov (UFA in 2011), Al Montoya (RFA in 2011)
New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist (UFA in 2014), Martin Biron (UFA in 2012)
Ottawa Senators: Craig Anderson (UFA in 2016), Curtis McElhinney (UFA in 2011), Pascal Leclaire (UFA in 2011), Robin Lehner (RFA in 2013)
Philadelphia Flyers: Sergei Bobrovsky (RFA in 2014), Brian Boucher (UFA in 2011), Mike Leighton (UFA in 2012)
Phoenix Coyotes: Ilya Bryzgalov (UFA in 2011), Jason LaBarbera (UFA in 2011), Matt Climie (UFA in 2011)
Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury (UFA in 2015), Brent Johnson (UFA in 2012), Brad Thiessen (RFA in 2012)
San Jose Sharks: Antti Niemi (UFA in 2015), Antero Niittymaki (UFA in 2012)
St. Louis Blues: Jaroslav Halak (UFA in 2014), Ty Conklin (UFA in 2011), Jake Allen (RFA in 2014), Ben Bishop (RFA in 2011)
Tampa Bay Lightning: Dwayne Roloson (UFA in 2011), Mike Smith (UFA in 2011)
Toronto Maple Leafs: James Reimer (RFA in 2011), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (UFA in 2011), Jonas Gustavsson (UFA in 2012), Ben Scrivens(RFA in 2011)
Vancouver Canucks: Roberto Luongo (UFA in 2022), Cory Schneider (RFA in 2012)
Washington Capitals: Michal Neuvirth (RFA in 2013), Semyon Varlamov (RFA in 2011), Braden Holtby (RFA in 2013)
A couple of observations, Pekka Rinne notwithstanding, the next two years of unrestricted free agency feature weak goaltending classes but good god, look at that 2014 UFA crop: Ryan Miller, Henrik Lundqvist, Miika Kiprusoff, Jonas Hiller and Jaroslav Halak. Had Murray remained steadfast on a three year commitment, he may have had a crack at signing one of these goalies. Like banking on Rinne still being available next offseason, there’s an incredible amount of inherent risk in assuming that one or more of these players won’t be re-signed by their parent clubs by the time that their contracts expire.
And like waiting on a free agent, there’s no definitely no certainty that acquiring a promising young player like Bernier or Schneider will ever fulfill their hype. As much as Ottawa could afford to take a chance on a player like this, the organization should still be trying to accrue as many prospects as possible. With Lehner already in the system, there’s just no sense in trading some of the team’s best young assets to acquire a goaltender whose vulnerabilities could easily be exposed playing behind such a young and inexperienced team.
Prospect Porn Courtesy of the Murrays:
There was a Garrioch article in today’s Sun that featured some comments in regards to this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Much of what was said was information that was already known: the team will draft Larsson if he’s the best player available and Murray does like a handful of forwards. Garrioch reminded fans that the Senators do have a second first round pick and Murray spent last week watching five possible first-round picks.
While Bryan Murray may not have been tipping his hand too much, his nephew Tim was a guest on the Healthy Scratches a few days ago and I haven’t really hit on what was said so I’ll do that now. To listen to the full interview, click here. Here is the gist of the interview:
- The organization will draft the best player available regardless of position.
- Thankfully there are no guarantees that this year’s lottery pick will play in the NHL next season. Tim seems to think that whomever they take could play, but says that might not be what happens. It will depend upon the best interests of the player. Tim thinks that with Nashville’s pick, the team could possibly grab a player who could play in the league next year but again, he doesn’t guarantee anything.
- The organization is still in on a few unnamed collegiate free agents.
- Some of the current young guys on Ottawa’s roster may not be here to start the year next season. It depends on whether it’s in their best interests to get 3rd or 4th line minutes at the NHL level or 1st line minutes in Binghamton. Depending on what happens during the offseason, some of these players may spend half a season in Binghamton.
- The organization is very happy with Patrick Wiercioch but he needs to add some significant strength if he is to have a chance at being a top four guy at the NHL level.
- David Rundblad’s season has been great and has been playing a ton. They think that’s great but feel that it can affect his play late in games. They think his development has improved exponentially and will give him a ton of confidence heading into training camp next season.