I’m Okaig With Craig or Defending Big C: Y Craig Anderson’s New Extension Am a Good Thing.

File Photo of Greg Anderton Bobblehead

File Photo of Greg Anderton Bobblehead


I’m here to talk to you. About a human goaltender who signed a contract. His name is Greg Anderton. A few days ago when the Senators announced they had extended him, I have to admit I was pretty shocked (shocked!) by the amount of hand wringing and frustration that the announcement seemed to be met with.

In review, this [long] off season has seen a cornucopia of signings. (Ed note: Is a cornucopia even a real life thing? Comment if you’ve ever seen one. Pffft, more like Unicornucopia)

Great, smart signings: Clarke MacArthur, David Legwand, Clarke MacArthur, Clarke MacArthur

Weird signings: Milan Michalek for knee years, knee million dollars per knee.

A full on psychedelic rock ride signing: Mark Borowiecki being made part of the Sens exciting new generation because he…passed…his…2 year, 21 game audition? Heyyy, currently second longest contract for a Sens defender, behind only Erik Karlsson.
Interesting fact: Karlsson himself, coincidentally, was also signed after just 21 games in NHL. Wait…was that signed after 21 games or re-ASSIGNED to Binghamton after 9 games? I don’t remember. I wish there was a microfiche thing I could that up on.  

Goalie signing(s): Robin Lehner was locked up until 2017 solidifying his rightful seat on the Thrown of the Skulls of Heretics as the goalie future and — oh and what’s this right here? Craig Anderson was also re-upped a few days later, for twice as much money until 2018…solidifying him…on the Corvette of Good Tidings?…huh…Confusing move but you know what? Good.

Now, before I am pelted with folding chairs, let me grovel explain why I think his signing is a good one for the Ottawa Senators in my patented Thirty Several Thoughts column.

Goaltenders are just people. Regular Joan Lunchpails like you and me who, you know, get injured.

As much as any fan wants their team to have a undisputed, dominant starting goaltender, a couple of recent examples of how that all eggs in one basket strategy can actually be a pretty big risk come to mind: 

Ottawa – Montreal 2013 Playoff Series: Carey Price is a good, consistent starting goaltender. In my opinion, he helps float Montreal into a strata of success that they wouldn’t otherwise enjoy without him. Case in point: He was pretty shaky against Ottawa in that series but was I the only one who thought “Oh wow, these guys are
 fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked” when Price went down and Budaj had to start all of a sudden? Sure, price only played particularly well in one game that series but it was only when Budaj got the call that it felt like the Sens were going to win.  

Tampa Bay – Montreal 2014 Playoff Series: This one may hit close to home for Sens fans as we saw Ben Bishop get traded to Tampa for Cory Conacher (The OTHER Ryan Shannon) and watched him go on to almost single headedly turn Tampa Bay from toilet trolls to contenders in a heartbreakingly impressive, Vezina nominated performance. Contenders they were, of course, until Bishop was injured toward the end of the season. The question became ‘Can Anders Lindback hold the fort dow-‘ aaaaaand Swept in 4 games in the first round. See you in the car, Milhouse.

You knew I was going here: I needn’t remind Sens fans about Dominek Hasek getting hurt heading into the post season back in “Our Year” of 05-06. No pressure, up from the AHL rookie, Ray Emery. Lead us to the promised land.

Lehner might indeed be the starting goaltender of the future but today ain’t the future.

I’ll start this off by saying this: Lehner is my guy. I want him to be the best goaltender that Ottawa’s ever developed in-house. But the pragmatist in me (read: snivelling coward) can’t ignore that he has only 61 regular season games and two playoff starts under his belt at this point. To illustrate how little experience that is, Anderson played 63 games in his first full season in Ottawa. Just because Lehner got his first Big Kid contract doesn’t mean he’s officially a starter. These things take time. 
Yes, you have to start getting those starts at some point and I do hope that Paul MacLean gives Lehner fair shake this season but at just 23 years of age (a toddler in Goalie Years) its relieving to have Lehner insulated by one the best goalies the franchise has ever had.

I’ve heard some concern from other fans that judging by Anderson’s comments at the end of his [disappointing] season that he has no interest in playing second fiddle which is just asking for a goaltending controversy.

Ummm good? After having such a series of mediocre goaltenders for years, where the true controversy was over who was less bad, the last thing I want to see is a guy in full Marty Biron “Lady, Lundqvist’s puttin’ my kids through college!” career backup mode. Drive is something I, and I think many others, have always loved about Lehner. I definitely want some caliente fuego in the goalie tandem. Comfort is for the now retired in Florida Roberto Luongos of the world.
Oh and here’s the other thing…
If Lehner emerges as the undisputed starter, he’s going to take that job whether it’s Craig Anderson backing him up or Craig David.      

Here’s the most interesting counter argument. Let’s act it out. You be the bold letters and I’ll be Police Chief Wiggum: 

Why tie up 6 million in cap space on our budget team when it can be spent on locking up another player who fills a team need? I hear Zenon Konopka and Joe Corvo are available.
First off, I don’t think in today’s NHL that $6M dollars is a lot of money for two goalies that we know are good over rolling the dice on Lehner as starter and having Andrew Hammond (1 career NHL game) or Nathan Lawson (11 NHL games since being signed undrafted in 2008) to step in if he struggles. Keep in mind, former unproven Bingo goalie Mike Brodeur is currently an ECHL free agent. Also, there are no goaltending prospects in the system beyond those guys who appear even close to the pro level.  

So, just find a cheaper proven goaltender through free agency or a trade you smart ass son of a bitch.
K, a bit harsh with the name calling but feel me dawg: Looking for a goalie through free agency or a trade means competing with other teams to get a player sign and to or convince a GM to deal. That might not prove well for the team’s budget either or worse could cost us from our now dwindling prospect pool. On top of this you’re introducing a new player to a new system.
Instead we get our up and coming guy in Lehner as well as our vet Andy who’s been a very respectable 81 – 52 -17 since coming here btw. And hey, if Lehner blows Anderson out of the water and Andy wants out? I wouldn’t imagine it would be too tough to move Andy in a league where year after year come trade deadline without fail a team or two seems desperate for goaltending help. I’m hoping with the Sens current tandem that we wont have to be one of them.


4 thoughts on “I’m Okaig With Craig or Defending Big C: Y Craig Anderson’s New Extension Am a Good Thing.

  1. YO. I am so down/chill/sweg/#hipster with Anderson’s contract. (What I’m not okay with is you launching frighteningly disproportionate Caillou dolls at us at the beginning of posts, James.) Totally agree on the injury front — we’ve already seen that Anderson is susceptible to frozen chicken — and the Marty Biron front — like, since when was a goalie competition to figure out the best a bad thing? Pretty sure that two yos in masks trying to outperform each other every night is only a positive for our team. I expect there’ll be “controversies” over MacLean’s game-to-game decisions on who to start, but whatevs, that’s hockey.

    ALSO, things that made me laugh:
    – “Unicornucopia” OMG
    – poor Michalek’s knee years, knee million dollars per knee contract. ILUMILO ❤

  2. 23 isn’t that young for a goalie. Like all posiitons, gone are the days when goalies started gettin’ jiggy wit it at the age of 28-29 then played until 43. Goalies are starting startin’ younger, hit primes around 25-27 then tail off in their early 30s+. I think 6th Sens had a nice chart about this in between going /wrists over getting blocked on Twitter by the Senators. Anderson is basically an average starter (He’s only started 60+ games…once? Twice? ) and a high-event backup.
    Lehner IS a starter and one with a proven track record. Lehner is basically our Carey Price, they both have AHL hardware and both can carry an average team. Anderson can…not cut chicken? Sulk when his team lets him down and droop his shoulders? Pass the buck onto his teammates when he sucks?

    Look, we know Lehner isn’t playing because…MacLean is basically a lobster farmer from Antigonish that doesn’t “get” young people with talent. Sitting Lehner after he was the hottest goalie in the league, to make some kind of point, was idiotic. So is playing the Smith line at any point. Or playing Phillips more than 5 minutes a game. So yeah, while that guy is our coach (hopefully only for the 2014-2015 season) Anderson will be the starter. I look forward to the day when he’s gone though, along with Neil, Phillps, Cowen and Borwiecki. But hey, that’s just me.

    • Hi QQ,

      Yeah I agree that 23 isn’t overly young but it’s not that prime time that you spoke of either. Funny you bring up Lehner as our Price as I felt Montreal totally rushed him into being starter b/c of their weird obsession with recreating Patrick Roy’s Stanley Cup rookie year. Remember how ugly that shit was early on? Booed durning a pre-season game? Booed another time on home ice resulting in Price giving the Patrick Roy, “I’m getting the fuck outta here” salute to the crowd? I think the Montreal’s incredibly passionate (read: often moronic) fans really lucked out that he even stuck around.
      Either way, the point I was trying to make there, was that Price isn’t insulated with a quality back up. With him healthy they made the conference finals. When they had to turn to Budaj, I saw a completely different team that got trounced by our 7th seeded boys. Ditto the Lightning with Bishop going down this past season. I suppose I am just a strong believer in depth at the position. Those who fail to learn from the Haseks of the past are doomed to the…Hammonds of the future?
      If Anderson is the high event backup you say he is, great. That actually sounds perfect to me. Like I said, Lehner is my guy. I want him to be great. What I’m saying is I can see why the team did this. They want a strong tandem while he proves himself a little more.
      Judging by your comment you’re not much of an Anderson fan and my replying to your comment (thx 4 reading btw) is not going to change that but I have to ask what is Lehner’s proven track record in comparison to Andy?
      Lehner is actually coming off a pretty rough season where he was given a fair amount of games at 36 (or 44%) and came out with a losing 12-15-10 and was brutal in the shootout. Anderson also had a bad year but finished with a much stronger 25-16-8. In the business of wins and losses, and keep in mind it’s management that do the contract work not MacLean, I can see why they weren’t completely ready to push the chips in on Lehner who, and it pains me to bring some of these points up, doesn’t yet have a winning record in his entire career in Ottawa. Anderson has only winning seasons since coming here. Though it was a tough year to be Sens goalie and with all this talk of wins and losses, yes, it takes the whole team to win and lose. I didn’t like some of Anderson’s comments either but let’s not pretend Lehner has clean hands in terms of attitude either. He’s admitted such himself.
      True to your point that Anderson is no spring chicken but does that not make you feel a little more confident that he will be relegated to backup as Lehner develops? Again, I just don’t see an alternative partner for Lehner in the system that I am remotely comfortable with. By the way, if you’re not a fan of older goaltenders I do not recommend you look at the current pool of Free Agents, lots of dudes over 40. I don’t want to trade away more of the team’s already shaky lineup for a goalie when we already had two.
      Lastly, the thing I can’t speak to whatsoever is how MacLean will use his goalies. That’s the biggest question. He made some strange moves that backfired last year but that doesn’t play young skilled players I’m just not sure. Erik Karlsson gets a superhuman 30 PLUS minutes a night, he gave Kyle Turris Jason Spezza’s job and gave Cody Ceci a ton of games in place of Joe Corvo. Stone filled in for Ryan on the top line. I didn’t like benching Wiercioch but Ottawa is one of the youngest teams in the league, he plays young players. He also plays grinders too much too though. Last year was a shit show on many levels including coaching but I’m not so sure I’m ready to throw in the towel on a coach with a winning record here who’s gotten the team into the playoffs two out of 3 years.

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