Trade Anderson now
Goalie's value will never be higher
DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
|Senators goaltender Craig Anderson misses a glove stop against the Rangers at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., April 23, 2012. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - Itís unlikely to happen and the mere suggestion is sure to draw cries of outrage, but this summer is the time the Senators should look at moving Craig Anderson.
Especially if Daniel Alfredsson is going to retire.
Already wanting to add one Top 6 forward, GM Bryan Murray will need a couple if the captain calls it quits. And expecting two to emerge from a group that presently includes Jakob Silfverberg, Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad, Mike Hoffman and Andre Petersson ó bright-to-decent prospects but with a grand total of one NHL regular-season point between them ó is too much. On a team that will be expected to make the playoffs again, all five might even need time (or more time) in the AHL.
Now, thinking Murray can snag a pair of offensively potent forwards off the free-agent list is probably overambitious as well. After all, he wonít be the only fisherman on the dock. So that leaves him needing to make a trade. For bait, it would only figure heíll pull from his position of strength.
Suddenly, thatís goaltending.
Murray could deal one of Ben Bishop or Robin Lehner, sure, but they are 25 and 20 years of age, respectively. In brief auditions, both have proved they can play and excel in the NHL.
The Senators can contend next season, but can they win the Stanley Cup? Itís doubtful theyíll be in that position for a couple of more years, at about the time Bishop and Lehner should be ready to give them a championship-calibre tandem.
The best prospect of the two is Lehner, and by sticking him in Binghamton for another season, they risk stunting his growth.
If the big Swede took a step backward this season, is it not understandable? Two springs ago, he had a 2.10 GAA and a .939 save percentage over 19 playoff games while leading the B-Sens to a Calder Cup title.
It may defy logic, but Lehner sure looked to be ready for promotion then. He was certainly convinced of it. But while all others who played a big role in a the championship run were elevated to Ottawa, the MVP was not.
Would your head be in the right place after that?
Meanwhile, after a stuttering start, Anderson was very good for the Senators in 2011-12. He was one of the teamís most consistent players in the series with the Rangers. Heís 30 years old and he carries a very friendly cap hit of $3.1875 million over the next three seasons.
It might take some Murray smooth-talking, but who knows, trading Anderson, even as part of a package, could answer the need for both a proven, point-producing forward and a defensive defenceman.
At a glance, Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Winnipeg and Columbus are among the teams that should be eager to talk.
If Murray can get something done, or in anticipation of it happening, Malcolm Subban is the top-rated North American goaltender available in the draft and he could very well still be available when the Senators use the 15th pick overall.
That they are finally deep at what was previously a position of weakness means the Senators are probably leery of moving a goalie.
But they should, because itís now a position of strength, and Anderson would get them the best return.