Anderson worth the 'test drive'

JASON YORK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:23 AM ET

Have you ever bought a new car, only to have your excitement turn to bitter disappointment when the supposedly top-of-the-line machine turns out to be an absolute lemon?

The Senators know the feeling. The sleek sports car (read: Goalie) GM Bryan Murray thought he picked up from the Blue Jackets two summers ago has been in the shop for repairs almost from the day it arrived.

The good news for the club is the hefty Pascal Leclaire lease payment will be off the books when the season ends.

If only Murray could have just taken Leclaire out for a test drive for a few months to see how he handled before signing him. It could have saved the Senators a few headaches.

Some players have higher pain tolerances than others, some players love the game and work at it harder than others and some are more passionate and prepare differently and can be better examples for younger players than others.

When GMs trade for players or sign free agents, they obviously do their homework to find out if the player will be a good fit with the organization. But there is always some uncertainty about what kind of player a team is getting until he arrives and the organization can see firsthand how he goes about his business on a day-to-day basis.

Usually, teams don’t get the opportunity to “test drive” a player before they sign him. But the Senators — the “Bad News Bears” of the NHL this season — now have that chance with Craig Anderson.

By trading Brian Elliott, a pending restricted free agent who was not going to be back in an Ottawa uniform next season, for Anderson, the Senators are getting a veteran goalie for a 24-game trial period.

If they like what they see over the remainder of the season, they’ll make the pending UFA an offer to stay, compete for the No. 1 job and help mentor up-and-comer Robin Lehner.

This trade is a sign the Senators might be heading back in the right direction. Ottawa’s management has made its share of mistakes when it comes to goaltending, but bringing in Anderson could pay off in the long run.

The 29-year-old has not had a long and distinguished NHL career, but he did prove to be quite durable last season, appearing in more than 70 games. He played the best hockey of his career, backstopping a young Colorado team many pundits predicted would finish last in the Western Conference to a playoff berth.

Anderson has not played at the same level this season for a variety of reasons, including a knee injury. But when you compare him with other potential UFA goaltenders such as J.S. Giguere, Tomas Vokoun and Ilya Bryzgalov, signing Anderson for a reasonable price could make a lot of sense.

Some fans might wonder why a goalie would want to be part of the messy situation in Ottawa, but the rebuilding stage that the Senators are now entering might be the perfect situation for a guy like Anderson, who wants to be a No. 1 goalie and already has experience playing behind a young team. The Senators should think seriously about giving him that chance.


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