Ottawa Senators Goaltending Situation: Decision Time


Andrew Hammond will be a restricted free agent going into this year’s off-season, meaning the Senators will have a hard decision to make regarding his future with the team alongside Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.

Here is what I see being the best scenario for the Senators and the three goalies going forward. Before getting to that, take a look at the three goaltenders stats from 2013 on.

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Craig Anderson

There is no denying that Craig Anderson has provided some fantastic goaltending for the Ottawa Senators. Anderson has back-stopped this team to two playoff appearances in the five years he has been here, and for the most part has been everything this team has needed him to be.

Assuming he was completely healthy for the strike shortened 2012-13 season, many had Anderson penciled in as their favourite to win the NHL’s Vezina Trophy. Now, after signing a three year contract extension during the off-season it is safe to say that the Senators viewed Anderson as their starter and had intended to keep him around as part of their core.

This year has not been the greatest in terms of health and production for Anderson, but there is still belief amongst management that Anderson will rebound and continue to be this team’s starting goalie going into next year.

Although Anderson could fetch a fair return on the trade market, the return probably would not justify trading a proven number one and the Senators cannot afford to put all their hope into Lehner.

At this point it’s a no-brainer, Anderson is and should be the starter going into next season. The Senators have faith in Anderson and rightfully so; Anderson has bailed this team out on numerous occasions and has earned the right to man the goal for the time being.

Andrew Hammond

Andrew Hammond has taken the NHL by storm with a godly 18-1-2 record since taking over in goal for Robin Lehner. The Hamburglar was named star of the week three of the past six months while also being named Star of the Month for March. With a SV% of .937 and a 1.91 GAA there is a lot of debate amongst Senators fans over how much of this run is adrenalin fueled luck or if this is a goalie that is finally getting the chance to prove himself during the prime of his career.

This is the question that Bryan Murray and the rest of the Senators management have to ask themselves this off-season.

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Sure this run has been great for the team, fans and everyone involved but do the Senators really think that Hammond can keep up these numbers over a complete season? Sadly, there is nothing about Hammond’s career that suggests this is indeed sustainable.

Hammond has one year under his belt in the AHL with some very mediocre stats (25-19-3, 9.10 SV%, 2.81 GAA). Of course it’s only one year, and some goalies take a while to come into form and hone their skills, but Hammond is already 27 and at the point in his career where it will be hard for the Senators goaltending staff to mold him into the goalie they’d like him to be.


On the other hand, can the Senators afford to let this guy walk away and sign with another team? Not likely. There is no question that Hammond will get offers from other teams if he is to become an unrestricted free agent. Teams like Edmonton, Dallas, Buffalo and even San Jose would kick the tires on Hammond as a backup goalie if he joins the open market.

It is probably best for the Senators to try and sign Hammond to some sort of two year deal as the team’s everyday backup goalie. This would mean that Lehner would most likely need to be moved, as he would not be able to go back to the AHL. If you try to compare what Hammond could fetch with an extension compared to what the Senators gave to Lehner (Three year $7M) it could be possible for the Senators to offer Hammond something in the range of $3M over two years.

It would be a complete PR disaster if the Senators let Hammond walk after the end of the year given what he has done for the team, and the franchise as a whole over the past two months. As Senators fans we’re kind of tired of those.

Robin Lehner

Despite a three year contract extension this past off-season, the faith in Robin Lehner may be at an all-time low. Lehner has shown difficulty stopping the puck this year and some would say that he has actually regressed.

When the Senators drafted Lehner in the 2nd round of the 2009 entry draft (46th overall) there were some expectations that after a couple years in the AHL he would be able to come into the parent club and eventually take over the number one spot from whoever was holding it.

We have all heard it numerous times “Robin Lehner is the future in goal for the Ottawa Senators“. Unfortunately for Lehner and for all of those scouts that had him pegged as a legitimate NHL starting goalie, I don’t think it will happen, at least not in Ottawa.

Lehner has always had difficulty with his temper and frustration. People have compared him to a Tuukka Rask type; a hot headed goalie who gets fired up very easily. Yet if you look at the top goalies now in the league, the majority of them are stoic. Carey Price, Anderson and Henrik Lundqvist are prime examples that fit the description.

Another issue with Robin is his inability to take the reins when he has been pushed into the spotlight. Over the past two seasons Lehner has been given the opportunity to prove himself while Anderson was on the shelf. It is difficult for me to say this, but he hasn’t proven himself ready to be the go to guy and I don’t think the Senators can continue to sit on him and wait for him to turn into one.

Sure there is still time for Lehner as he is only 23 years old, but when do you say enough is enough? The time has come and it is probably best to try and move Lehner in the off season.

he hasn’t proven himself ready to be the go to guy

If the team does sign Hammond to a contract extension, and at this point they should, Lehner becomes very expendable.

Just like Hammond, Lehner will definitely command a fair return on the open market and perhaps a change in scenery would be best for Lehner’s career.

Where could you try and trade Lehner too? Again the same teams arise; Edmonton, Buffalo, Dallas, San Jose. I’m not stating that the Senators will trade Lehner, but with career numbers of .914 SV% and a 2.88 GAA, perhaps this is the type of goalie Lehner is – an average number two goalie that can come in and fill the void when the number one goes down.


With three goalies crowding the crease, I don’t envy Murray and the management for the decision they will eventually have to make. I just hope for the franchise and fan’s sake they make the right one. In my view, that is first signing Hammond then determining where to go from there.

What do you think? What should the Senators be focused on regarding their goalies this off-season?

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