Both the Ottawa Senators and goaltender Craig Anderson have an interest in the veteran’s trade value with the NHL Trade Deadline approaching next month. The Senators are again outside of the playoff picture and looking to deal any impending free agents for futures. Anderson meanwhile is 38 years old and has never come close to winning a Stanley Cup, reaching the postseason five times in his 17-year career and only twice advancing past the first round. Both sides would seemingly like to see a deal made.
Yet, as The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch writes, Anderson’s play of late may be ruining that chance for both he and his team. Anderson has allowed four or more goals in each of his last four games, all of which have ended in Senators’ losses. His save percentage has dropped below .900, while his goals against average has jumped to 3.27. Entering this season after back-to-back difficult campaigns, Anderson needed consistently strong play to redeem his value. Instead, the long-time Ottawa keeper looks like a player whose days as a reliable contributor are over.
However, Anderson remains “open-minded” to the idea of a trade and the Senators certainly would like to get anything out of him on the market, if at all possible. However, if Anderson’s value is to improve at all over the next six weeks leading up to the deadline, Ottawa must be wiling to but the veteran in net. Anders Nilsson received the lion’s share of starts early in the season, so much so that he has one fewer appearance than Anderson despite being out with an injury since mid-December. Even with Nilsson sidelined, Anderson has been sharing the net, now with young Marcus Hogberg. Hogberg has played in nine games this season, seven since Nilsson’s injury, and of late has been at the opposite end of the spectrum of Anderson, allowing two goals or fewer in each of his last three appearances. Despite these efforts, if the Sens want to move Anderson they must put him in the lineup, even once Nilsson returns to action.
If Ottawa isn’t willing to give Anderson the chance to improve his trade stock, they likely will struggle to get anything back for him. The rental goalie market is far from vacant; there are upwards of a half-dozen goalies who could easily be on the move by the end of February. The Chicago Blackhawks have at least one keeper that they could move, San Jose’s Aaron Dell and Montreal’s Keith Kinkaid are established backups who will be made available, and Anderson is not even the only gray-haired veteran on the block, with the Ducks’ Ryan Miller and Red Wings’ Jimmy Howard potentially available. There are more goalies for sale than there are backup buyers and not all of these names will move. If the Senators and Anderson hope that he is one of the few to go, things need to change – and soon.