Doing goaltending in the NHL on the cheap isn’t easy. Starting goaltenders are key pieces to any championship team and it shows in their pay.
Next season, there are 9 goaltenders slotted to make greater than 6 million dollars a season and 17 goaltenders prepared to make over 5 million a season. Among those are elite level players like Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist and a few questionable players like Ryan Miller and Cam Ward.
The Ottawa Senators have a goaltender who has been among the league’s best for quite some time in Craig Anderson, arguably a top 10 goaltender. They also have Andrew Hammond, a guy who played like the league’s best goaltender for a 2-3 month span. It makes for an interesting combination, as the Senators seem pretty set in the net heading into 2015-16.
Craig Anderson makes an average annual salary of 4.2 million dollars on a deal that expires in 3 years. Andrew Hammond makes a whopping 1.2 million on a deal that expires the same time Anderson’s does.
So, with more than half of the NHL’s presumed starting goaltenders ready to make more than 5 million next year, how does Ottawa stack up when compared to other teams who have assembled a solid tandem for under 6 million dollars a year?
Here’s your list:
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It’s a fairly short list, and you’ll notice that many of the teams on it opt to go with youth over experience. There’s a few, notably Edmonton and Anaheim who are really doing it on the cheap. Edmonton has unproven starter Cam Talbot and two backups on one-way deals in Ben Scrivens and Anders Nilsson; with Scrivens making the most out of them all.
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Anaheim has two up and coming players in John Gibson and Frederick Andersen. Andersen is likely to stay in the NHL with backup Anton Khudobin, while Gibson will likely have another year in the american league to develop.
Of course, those cheap cap hits come with a few raised flags. In Edmonton, the trio’s average save percentage last year was just 0.900, even with Cam Talbot’s incredible 0.926sv% performance. Lehner and Johnson in Buffalo were just a hair under 0.900. So certainly not the most impressive numbers.
Now if you’re looking at some other teams who have spent wisely, it’s easy to see which goaltending tandems are done on the cheap, the right way.
Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk gave the team new life this past season and will look to do the same this upcoming year as he cashes his 4.3 million dollar, 6 year deal at the bank. Dubnyk’s backup, Darcy Kuemper has shown he can be a reliable 1b goaltender, which gives Minnesota two solid options.
Philadelphia also highlights the list as Steve Mason played like a top 10 goaltender this past year. His .926sv% was good enough to lead Philadelphia with 50+ starts and the signing of Michal Neuvirth gives Philly a better backup option over Ray Emery.
Beyond Philly and Minnesota, St. Louis and Winnipeg both hold formidable, cheap tandems. Ondrej Pavelec had a good year last season with a .920 sv% while Michael Hutchinson is a young goaltender with promise. With youngsters Connor Hellebucyk and Eric Comrie coming up, it seems like Winnipeg will be set in the net for some time to come.
Hammond/Anderson Lead The Pack
With Andrew Hammond’s astronomical numbers this past year, and Craig Anderson holding a nice sv% of his own, the Senators duo was among the best tandems in the league, never mind tandems with less than a 6 million dollar cap hit.
A .930 average sv% is beyond great, and although we aren’t sure how the starts will break down, if the Senators are able to hold anything near that .930 point, there is a good chance they’ll be back in the playoffs in 2015-16.
We probably won’t ever see a run like Andrew Hammond had… again. So, the Senators will need to be a steady team from the gates in October. There’s a general rule of thumb that the playoff positions are usually set around American Thanksgiving. Luckily, the Senators avoided the “you are what you are” rule this past year, but won’t be able to rely on that sort of thing again.
They are a budget team and have a goaltending tandem that for less than 6 million dollars has the potential to be among the best in the league.
Look for goaltending to be a big key to the teams success this year. Now only if the Sens could add a much needed defensive upgrade…
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