Though it doesn’t come as much of a surprise, Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion confirmed today that Craig Anderson will be the goalie protected for the team in the upcoming expansion draft. With Mike Condon set to become an unrestricted free agent, that means the Golden Knights will get a chance to negotiate with him prior to the draft, and also puts into question whether the Senators will look to retain him on a longer-term contract after the season. Anderson has just a single year left on his contract, but at 36 was one of the biggest reasons the Senators reached game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.
While protecting Anderson seems like the obvious choice after his excellent season—the veteran goaltender put up a .926 save percentage despite his personal issues—Condon looks more like the future in Ottawa should they be able to sign him. Dorion mentioned during his press conference that if they can’t sign Condon (which would confirm that they’re trying to) that Andrew Hammond could be in as the backup to Anderson, and though Hammond had a Cinderella-like run when his career started, he had a terrible season fighting injury and is already 29-years old. Dorion admits talks with Condon haven’t gone well so far, but that he will speak to his agent next week.
In terms of other players being protected, Dorion was less forthcoming. He put it simply:
We’re going to lose a player. That’s part of the deal. Las Vegas payed a lot of money to get in this league, and that’s part of the deal. Are you mad about it? No. That’s part of the deal. We’ve got enough depth that I don’t see any radical changes to this team.
There has been much speculation about the possibility of Bobby Ryan being exposed, though when Ian Mendes of TSN asked if Dorion had changed his mind during the playoffs about certain players, the GM said that they have to take everything into account. Ryan exploded in the playoffs after a dreadful season, turning into one of the team’s best forwards. After scoring just 25 points in the regular season, Ryan put up 15 in the Senators’ 19 playoff games and may have done enough to warrant protection once again. Supremely talented, Ryan has the biggest cap-hit on the team and is signed through the 2021-22 season.