Andrew Hammond, despite all the other storylines around the Senators’ was the story of the team last year. He’s a guy who without any NHL experience would end up playing 24 NHL games, only losing in regulation once.
He bought Robin Lehner a ticket out of town and had Craig Anderson nervous as well. Luckily, Andy’s stellar regular season and post-season performance means he’s back in the Senators crease and as the de-facto number one. That said, as a 27-year-old rookie, Hammond has his sights set on the same thing.
I’ve mentioned it in a few other blogs, but there is certainly a chance that Hammond could provide Anderson with more consistent competition than Robin Lehner did in previous years. Perhaps this makes for a solid 1a/1b tandem, but what should be important for Hammond is finding his rhythm at the NHL level early this season.
What’s his role?
Currently, it’s the backup job. You’d have to think he’s one of the better “backups” in the league or at least has the chance to be. Last year may have been a crazy run that will never happen again, but to evaluate his game this past year Senators fans saw he has incredible athleticism and smarts when moving side-to-side in the crease.
Of course, we’re talking about saves like this..
He’s an extremely mobile goaltender and a relatively small goaltender at 6foot1. Anderson is a goaltender with a similar style and provides comfort that may not yet be seen with Hammond. After all, he’s only played 24 NHL games.
So, with a worst case scenario, the Senators have a decent backup goaltender signed to a favourable contract over the next three years. I don’t see Hammond plummeting as a goaltender as he’s still young enough to make himself an NHL career. If his career is as a backup who can come in a provide you a good game every now and then, that’s fine.
.. but the Senators are certainly hoping for more.
How Many Starts?
In his career, Craig Anderson has shown he can be a 50 – 60 apperance goaltender. He’s appeared in 50+ games twice with Ottawa, as 63 game and 53 game years were what made up Anderson’s work-load in 2013-14 and 2011-12. His career high, which came with Colorado in 2009-10 was a 71 game season when Peter Budaj acted as his backup.
So, assuming Anderson is good for at least 50, possibly more, then Andrew Hammond’s starts will be dictated strictly off his play.
As I said before, Anderson is the de-facto number one but Hammond certainly has the chance to force him out of some starts. Under Dave Cameron’s system, we likely won’t see any of the same lineup oddities that were seen under the Paul MacLean era, and that includes who starts in net. Whoever has the hot hand will go and when goaltenders need nights off the two can play off each other if both remain healthy.
In a best case scenario for Hammond, I see Ottawa rolling with a 1a/1b tandem similar to how the Toronto Maple Leafs played out last year.
This means 45-50ish starts for the number one guy and somewhere in the mid 35-40 for the “backup”. Andrew Hammond showed us he’s capable of that last year, but he’ll be playing for a spot this time around, not being given one.
The above scenario works out well for the team as well, as in theory, they don’t have to rely on one goaltender too heavily. If 1a/1b isn’t the way they go then maybe Anderson does get a few more starts (60+) and Hammond takes a little step back and perhaps he only sees 20 – 25.
I see Andrew Hammond as the backup to start the year. He’s a good goaltender with good physical attributes. He can play in the NHL, but finding his rhythm and role as an NHLer will be very important this upcoming year. Is that as a goaltender who can push the starter and handle 35-40 starts a year? or is he more suit as a typical backup, at perhaps 25-30 starts?
Hammond knows what is on the line and so does the franchise. They’ve got a youngster they feel highly about in Matt O’Connor but also feel set in their NHL crease for the time being. 2015-16 will represent a big telling year for the Senators goaltending depth as new looks will be had on both O’Connor and Hammond, guys with limited or no experience at their respective levels.