Monday, March 21, 2011

Anderson Locked In By Murray For Four Years

Solid move by GM Bryan Murray today to get goalie Craig Anderson under contract for the next four years at an average of just over 3 million a season.
What this team needs now, perhaps more than ever in their franchise history, is stability in the net and this deal gives them that going forward.
As Murray said today at the press conference, the tumultous year for Robin Lehner has hurt his progress after bouncing around from league to league and not being able to win the starting job in either scenario. And that's not totally suprising given his age and the circumstances.
So far, the Senators "rebuild" with youth has shown results right away (though it's always a bad idea to equate late season surges with success the following season) but the one position you don't want to have inexperience at during these upheavals is in the net. That's why expansion teams always go with veteran goaltenders, because they know there are going to be tough nights and even longer stretches where losing is going to be inevitable.
Anderson has already proved that he's a good, if not great, goalie in this league. Some critics have pointed to his tough start in Colorado this year but it's obvious that their problems were far deeper than goaltending.
Already I'm hearing a negative reaction from fans on the call-in shows due to the length of the deal, but it's not like Murray was going into this negotiation from a position of strength. Anderson doesn't owe Ottawa a thing and he could have simply said that if he didn't get that fourth year, he'd just go to July 1st and see what the market offered. Smartly, Murray didn't balk and got Anderson under contract for very little money when you look at what other starting goalies are getting in this league.
With the setbacks that the 19 year old Lehner went through this year, there are no guarantees he's going to be ready at anytime during the length of Anderson's contract. Most goalies don't crack the NHL until their mid-20's anyways.  Lehner has plenty of time to arrive in the normal, routine way that other starters do.
If he does somehow battle his way to the top spot in the next two or three years, it's not as if Anderson's contract is so huge that moving him would be impossible.
Overall, a necessary and positive move for this organization going forward.
And call me crazy, but doesn't it look like Murray is going to be around in his role for at least another season?
I'm not calling him Lazarus, but it's pretty close.


Anonymous said...

Minimal Playoff Experience + Minimal Canadian Market Experience + One Good Year As a Starter = Martin Gerger Part 3

hambown said...

I think that Bryan Murray is looking like the man to rebuild the Senators. He's got a record of drafting and development that is second to none. He's a shrewd negotiator. Now that he's not being pressured to build a team to win now (with players on previously unmovable contracts that just weren't up to it), and make that final 'tweak' (Alex Kovalev anyone?) he can do what he does best: patiently build a winner by drafting and developing players well (Ducks of '07, Detroit prior to that).

The bigger question for me is should Cory Clouston stick around? He's got some familiarity with the players, and has shown he's adept at coaching a younger team. However, he's already lost this room once. He doesn't seem to be a good manager of veteran players. And when the going got tough this year (and it will be as tough or more next year), he doesn't seem very adept at motivating the team to play better. Can he appropriately dispense both encouragement and discipline, which is crucial to developing a team that trusts each other and plays together to win? Not for me. I'd rather have had Craig Ramsay or Guy Boucher, both sadly are now not available. What do you all think?

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Anderson's agent. Despite a subpar year with the Avalanche, he netted his client a 70% raise.

After an 11 game audition, we just handed out the most lucrative goaltending contract in Sens history. If I'm not mistaken, it's also the longest term that we've handed out to a goaltender as well. And, he didn't even have to win us a meaningful game to get it.

I don't understand the rush.

If you scope the goaltending landscape, it gets pretty interesting. It's almost become a game of musical chairs for goaltenders of late.

Last year's cup winner, was left without a chair and had to settle for $2M on a one year deal. No surprise that the shrewd Sharks nabbed the guy on the cheap. I think that this might be how things shake out again over the next little while.

Vancouver has two number ones, in my view. You'd think that Schneider becomes available at some point. LA has Bernier and Quick. Maybe Bernier becomes available. Boston has Thomas and Rask. You'd think one of them becomes available.

There's lots of these Price/Halak situations coming up. I think that we could have been a player in that game. That's what I would have liked to have seen.

Anderson has been outstanding. I just question whether this is a flash, or the real thing.

I think that we may have lost out in pursuing better options.

hambown said...

@Anon: the Niemi situation was a bit of an outlier. Why they went on to sign Marty Turco (to back up Corey Crawford??) for only a little less than Niemi made in San Jose is beyond me.

But the situation in Vancouver, and the free agent goaltending market are different stories. Schneider hasn't played enough NHL games to gauge his value as a starter (Brian Elliott tore it up in the AHL also). Quick will probably be made available before Bernier, but will be more expensive. Both I doubt Boston will let Rask go, making Thomas available but at 5.5 - 6m/yr, he's not affordable. Similarly Vokoun, arguably the best available free agent goal tender this summer, will start listening to offers in the 5 - 6m /yr range.

With the Anderson deal, Ottawa gets capable if not excellent goaltending for the duration of the rebuild, at a discounted rate to starters with comparable performance.

I do agree, though, that we shouldn't put too much weight on the 11 game audition process. Anderson's a capable goalie, sure, but he's also been plying his trade in the Western Conference for two years. Most (if not all) of the past 11 games have come against Eastern Conference teams, who probably don't know Anderson well enough to formulate plans for scoring that try to exploit the weaknesses in his game.

In the end, no signing is free from consequences. But this signing doesn't impair the Senators in terms of the salary cap, and we're signing a good goaltender who has shown he can be a starter for what will likely be the prime of his playing career. It's good enough for me :)

hambown said...

>Minimal Playoff Experience

Not really an issue, as we can all pretty much agree the Senators will be nowhere near the playoffs next year, and probably the year after that.

>Minimal Canadian Market Experience

This is one area that might be a factor. But he's a seasoned pro, and by all accounts level headed. Now all we as fans have to do is not blame him for losing. Wow, tough to have the onus on you eh?

>One Good Year As a Starter

I count one good year as Florida's starter, one good year as Colorado's starter. So we're probably good for at least one good year as Ottawa's starter.

>Martin Gerger Part 3

Don't know who this Gerger guy is, but there's no way this guy is the Gerbatross redux. Gerber was all Euro league except for like 55-60 games for Carolina (and one mental game during the Olympics). Anderson has played hundreds of NHL games, mostly in the West. He's good.

Anonymous said...

Don't like the length of the contract at all.
Murray will be back because Melnyk has hearts in his eyes when he looks at him and isn't win-driven/results-driven.

Can't wait for Murray to had an aging free agent a 6,000,000 per year for 5 years with NTC July 1st.

At least Anderson can be waived/traded when he craps out.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I'm getting pretty tired of the "Player X doesn't owe us a thing line."

Either we're a professional hockey team that dictates term and stands by it or we're a charity. If Anderson doesn't sign here in the summer we just do it internally or on the cheap with McElhinney/X.

One thing I dearly want to see a is a "My way or the highway" line from management for contracts. If you won't take a pay cut, screw you and we'll play an 18 year old or a young player in your spot.

Anonymous said...

no one wants to talk about his injury problems?

is he even healthy right now?

hello glascal part 2


Man, Ottawa fans are worse than the people of New York in Ghostbusters II who've been overcome by the pink slime. I honestly can't take it anymore. SO NEGATIVE.

If it weren't for the Sens, I would completely hate this city and their know-it-all, condescending, unenthusiastic lame ass hockey fans.

"You tell HIM the term, and if he doesn't like it, to hell with him. We are a professional Hockey team!!"

Great negotiating tactics, pal. If Murray's not back next year, I'd highly recommend you put together a little resume.