Throwback Thursday: Anderson Becomes Solution In Goal


The 2010-11 season for the Ottawa Senators was not a fun one. They ended up finishing 5th last in the entire league (but moved down to 6th in the lottery), and many pieces such as Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Jarkko Ruutu, Chris Campoli, and Alex Kovalev were sold off for draft picks. But the biggest trade before the deadline didn’t even seem like a major one at the time. The Senators acquired Craig Anderson from the Colorado Avalanche for Brian Elliott on February 18th, 2011.

This is another edition of Throwback Thursday, but this time it is a happy rendition instead of depressing.

More from SenShot

The Trade

On the day of the Anderson trade, the Senators sat 17 points out of a playoff spot and second last in the entire league. Anderson was seen as a long shot answer for Ottawa’s constant carousel of goalies. Also, Brian Elliott had played well in certain stretches but an .894% save percentage in 43 games was not nearly good enough.

Anderson had a fantastic 2009-10 season with the Avalanche, but the next season he too slipped to a .897% save percentage in 33 games. So it was basically a wash of a trade with both teams hoping that a change of scenery would be beneficial.

Both goalies were also UFA’s in the summer, so Ottawa was hoping that Anderson could show something to them so they could re-sign him.

The Senators had no playoff aspirations at this point, but the move was made while looking towards the future. The funny thing is that both of the goalies thrived with a change of scenery, but for Elliott it wasn’t in Colorado, it was in St. Louis. There were hopes amongst Ottawa fans that Anderson could become a starter, but it seemed like a reach.

Mar 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Senators 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Immediate Impact

In his first ever game as a Senator, Anderson he shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs in regulation, overtime, and the shootout for the 1-0 win. It was quite the boost, as it looked like perhaps Ottawa finally had their man in net. It was only one game, but that soon carried over to the last 17 games Anderson started for Ottawa. In his short stint with the team for 2010-11 he had a save percentage of .939%.

By the end of the season the Senators had jumped up to 13th in the East and over the last 24 games they had a record of 14-9-1 thanks mostly to Anderson. The teams roster was not pretty in the last few months of the season. That’s why Anderson was the main reason Ottawa “slipped” in the draft lottery rankings and didn’t pick at say number two or three. However, I’m still quite happy with picking Mika Zibanejad in that draft as he has turned out to be very good.

After a quick stint with Ottawa, Bryan Murray signed him to a very team friendly 4-year deal with a cap hit of $3,187,500. Nobody was sure if he was the immediate answer, but he had played well enough to warrant a contract.

Changing Into A Proven Starter/Trade Evaluation

Ever since joining Ottawa, Anderson has been a very solid starting goalie, and he’s been better than many would expect. Since 2011-12 amongst active goaltenders who have played over 100 games, he ranks 11th in save percentage:

He has been just as good or better than goaltenders like Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne, Corey Crawford, and Jimmy Howard. However, he is on a very cheap contract compared to those goalies. The average save percentage nowadays is about .914%, so he has been well above average in that regard, just bordering on elite. The list of goalies is 35, so he during that time span he has been amongst the best.

The funny thing is that Elliott has also played extremely well, ranking 4th on this list. However, I don’t think for one second that he would be that same goalie if he had stayed in Ottawa. He has gotten better obviously, but it would be naive to think that if the trade never happened Elliott would be an even better option than Anderson.

Elliott also has the privilege of playing on a very sound defensive team like St. Louis, so that masks a lot of his problems. He has been fantastic with the Blues posting a .923% save percentage, but you can’t just cut out the rest of his career numbers, because in total that number slips to just .912%.

No matter which way you slice it, the trade has worked out extremely well for Ottawa

If you are comparing playoff numbers, it’s night and day too. Anderson has a .933% save percentage in 27 career games, while Elliott has a .897% save percentage in 19 games. I know who I would want in my net in an elimination game.

Since coming to Ottawa, Anderson has been elite. In 193 games, he has a .920% save percentage, which would put him even higher on the list shown earlier. No matter which way you slice it, the trade has worked out extremely well for Ottawa. Sure Elliott has played very well for the Blues, but there was no way that was going to happen with the Senators.

Even though St. Louis wasn’t involved in the trade, they were also a big winner in this along with Ottawa, and Colorado ended up with the worst case scenario.

No matter who you think won the trade, it is fantastic to see the Senators finally get a proven starter, and a franchise goaltender at that. Even if that starter may potentially be traded this summer.

Next: The Senators Should Make Room For Erik Condra