|Senators goaltender Craig Anderson keeps his eye on the puck against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Feb. 23, 2011. (CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters)
Next on Bryan Murray’s to-do list: Sign goalie Craig Anderson.
The Senators GM has had preliminary discussions with the goalie’s agent, but it’s unlikely negotiations will start for real until Anderson proves himself a few more times in an Ottawa jersey.
Anderson, who can become an unrestricted free agent in July, has been nothing short of spectacular since being acquired from Colorado for goalie Brian Elliott. In four starts, he has a 3-1 record with 1.23 goals-against average and a .964 save percentage.
Anderson will share goaltending chores with 27-year-old Curtis McElhinney, who was claimed off waivers from Tampa Monday.
Teenage prospect Robin Lehner was returned to Binghamton, where he is expected to finish the season, while Pascal Leclaire is headed back to a spot on the injury shelf.
Leclaire, who the Senators are paying $4.8 million until they rid themselves of him for good at the end of the season, will not be back in Ottawa. He played for Binghamton Saturday, but then indicated to the organization his groin injury is still an issue.
“He told me wouldn’t be able to play for a while,” said Murray.
While McElhinney will get a few starts to prove to management he is an NHL goalie, with his poise, control and positioning, Anderson has already shown he could be the team’s best netminder since Dominik Hasek’s pre-adductor days.
“Obviously, I’ve been treated with great respect here,” said Anderson. “So far the fans, the city, management ... everything about Ottawa has just been unbelievable. It’s definitely a place I could see myself playing for a long time.
“For me, I want to go where I’m happy and where I’m wanted.”
He sees a lot of hope for the Senators.
“Coming here, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Anderson. “I didn’t know anybody in this room. I’ve got to know the guys the last couple of weeks. We’ve got a great bunch of guys here and we have some great talent, some great work ethic. I see a bright future in this room.”
Playing in a hockey market sounds like it’s more enticing than intimidating to Anderson.
“Hockey is Canada’s game,” he said. “To be in a Canadian city, it’s going to be talked about a lot. When you’re doing well, things will be good, when you’re doing bad there’s going to be a lot of questions from the media.
“It’s one of those things where you take the good with the bad and you hope the good is more than the bad.”