Anderson sold on Sens

The Pittsburgh Penguins' Maxime Talbot tries to get the puck past Ottawa Senators' Craig Anderson....

The Pittsburgh Penguins' Maxime Talbot tries to get the puck past Ottawa Senators' Craig Anderson. (REUTERS/Patrick Doyle)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:39 PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. — Turns out Craig Anderson is a keeper.

The Senators goaltender gave up the chance to shop himself around this summer on the lucrative unrestricted free agent market by signing a four-year, $12.75-million deal on Monday to stay in Ottawa.

The 29-year-old Anderson, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche for Brian Elliott on Feb. 18, was excited to get a contract done before the end of the season. He said he hadn’t thought of going elsewhere.

“It’s great to get something long-term done,” said Anderson. “It’s great to set some roots down and really grow with the guys. If you get some shorter-term contracts, it’s tough to grow with the group. My objective is to grow with the guys.

“We’ve got some young guys coming up and I want to make sure I’m a part of their growth. It’s been a great spot here to come in and show what I can do. I’m not surprised. It’s been an unbelievable first impression from the moment I got here. The people here have really gone out of their way to make me feel at home.”

Anderson will get a healthy raise from the $2.125 million he’s making this season in the second of the two-year deal that carries a cap hit $1.8 million. He’ll make an average of $3.187 million over the term of the new contract, but doesn’t have a no-movement or no-trade clause.

GM Bryan Murray, who planned to take a run at signing Anderson in the summer if he tested the UFA market, was happy the Senators were able to stabilize their goaltending.

“We feel he’s brought stability,” said Murray. “The position is one that we need if you’re going to retool, rebuild and improve this hockey club. I believe our players have played with confidence with both Curtis (McElhinney) and (Anderson).

“Craig has stepped in and allowed our team to play the way we think we have to play. With that secure building block, now we can address other issues.”

Talks to get Anderson signed started with his agent Justin Duberman last Wednesday following the GMs’ meetings in Florida. Both sides were motivated to get a deal done, which is why it didn’t take long.

“After the first couple of days, Craig said to me, ‘Just find a way for me to stay here,’ ” said Duberman. “That’s my job and I know Craig has felt really comfortable (in Ottawa). He wants to be part of it.

“We’re really pleased we were able to get this done. He’s been really happy with the reception he’s gotten there and the way the organization has treated him. He liked being there from the start.”

Murray, who believes Phoenix G Ilja Bryzgalov and Florida’s Tomas Vokoun won’t test the market this summer, said this was the right move, despite the fact Anderson has struggled in his past two games.

“I know the real Craig Anderson,” said Murray. “When I made the trade to acquire him, he was the guy I knew we had a chance if we could get him in here to talk to him to sign. The numbers made sense.”

Anderson said he isn’t worried about the pressure of playing in Canada. Not only was he given a round of applause when he showed up on the bench midway through his first game, the next night a fan stopped at a Kanata theatre to welcome him to Ottawa.

“The fans have been very welcoming and made my decision easy to want to play here,” said Anderson. “The ovation I got on the Jumbotron the first night made me know I’d be happy to play here.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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