Aside from cementing Bryan Murray’s future as a key part of the Ottawa Senators braintrust going forward, the signing of Craig Anderson will result in another undeniable eventuality.
That is, of course, if you’re a cynic.
In signing a four-year, $12.75 million extension with the Senators Tuesday, Anderson has basically just thrown his career down the sinkhole. That’s because, historically speaking, Ottawa has been a place for goaltenders to watch their careers die, particularly after making a long-term commitment to the organization.
Will Anderson follow the well-beaten path to the goaltending graveyard that was forged by former saviours Patrick Lalime, Martin Gerber, Ray Emery and, most recently, Pascal Leclaire? Heck, the Senators even made Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest goaltender of all-time, Dominik Hasek, look as though he was playing dodgeball instead of goal.
One thing is certain, 11 games in a Senators uniform is a very, very small body of work on which to award such a lucrative and long contract. But you’d have to think the Senators didn’t give Anderson such an enormous reward based solely on how he has played for them since being acquired for Brian Elliott - another member of the Senators goaltending alumni club.
On the other hand, though, the Senators haven’t had this kind of goaltending since Emery’s best days with the organization. With a 6-4-0 record and a .940 save percentage going into Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Anderson has given the Senators some hope their rebuild won’t be one that is painfully long. For as long as Anderson has been around, he hasn’t even celebrated his 30th birthday yet and he plays a position where many of his contemporaries have some of their best success in their 30s.
And that, in its essence, is the key to the Anderson signing. Despite the disastrous season, the Senators have the distinct feeling they’re closer to creeping back into the ranks of contenders than they are to an extended tenure among the NHL’s bottom feeders.
Anderson, and the goaltending he provides the Senators over the next four seasons, will go a long way toward determining how long that process will take. That’s because nothing can elevate or bring down an organization more dramatically than the quality of its goaltending.
The Senators know that better than anyone.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.