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Sunday News and Notes: Craig Anderson Signs Extension, Chabot Demoted, The Athletic Ottawa
PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 25: Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators looks on prior to Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 25, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

On Friday, general manager Pierre Dorion let the local reporters know that the team had signed Craig Anderson to a two-year extension as he casually passed by them in the stands at this morning’s practice.

Hey, it’s way better than walking by and crop dusting the Postmedia guys.

Per the organization’s official press release, “the contract will carry an average annual value of $4.75 million ($5.5M in year one, $4.0M in year two).”

Anderson was set to become an unrestricted at the end of the 2017-18 season, but if everything works out, the Senators’ goaltender of the future concerns can be put to rest for the next three seasons.

Despite his advanced age, the 36-year old Anderson has silenced his critics with his play.

In parts of seven seasons with the Senators, Anderson has posted a 151-99-34 record with a 2.59 GAA, 24 shutouts and a save percentage of .920.

In the playoffs, he has been even better.

In 40 career playoff starts with the Senators, Anderson sports a 21-18 record with a 2.30 goals against average, three shutouts and a save percentage of .928.

At five-on-five, Anderson stacks up well against his peers.

From the start of the 2010-11 season to the present, Corsica.Hockey places Anderson in the top 10 in five-on-five save percentage (92.82, tied for eighth) out of the goalies who’ve played more than 7,500 minutes. Only Carey Price, Braden Holtby, Henrik Lundqvist, Tuukka Rask, Sergei Bobrovsky, Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo have fared better and this list of names reads like a who’s who of NHL goaltenders.

In just looking at that list of names, it’s hard to ignore just how much these goaltenders earn. Carey Price is in the last year of his current deal that will pay him $7.0-million in real dollars this season, but next year his extension kicks in and he’ll make $15.0-million with a $10.5-million average annual value (AAV). Braden Holtby is in the third year of his contract that is worth $7.0-million in real dollars with an AAV of $6.1-million. Henrik Lundqvist is in the middle of his seven-year contract that carries an AAV of $8.5-million, but will pay him $9.0-million in real dollars once his bonuses have been accounted for. Tuukka Rask will earn $7.5-million with an AAV of $7.0-million while Sergei Bobrovsky’s deal brings in a similar $6.5-million in real dollars with a $7.425-million AAV. Cory Schneider is probably kicking himself for leaving a ton of money on the table, signing a seven-year deal that carries a paltry $6.0-million AAV and real dollar value. Finally, Roberto Luongo’s ridiculous 12-year contract is almost two-thirds done. This eighth year will net him $6.714-million in real dollars ($5.3-million AAV) before it diminishes in value with each subsequent season. (Note: all contract information was pulled from CapFriendly.com)

Strictly from a pure performance/salary perspective, it’s pretty easy to look at the money owed to these players and recognize that the Senators are getting good value relative to the contracts that Anderson has and will play for.

Now obviously locking these goaltenders up during their respective primes is what has really driven up the cost of their contracts, whereas Anderson’s age has essentially worked against him.

Pierre Dorion has made mention of the fact that he’s not concerned in locking up a veteran goaltender who will be 39 years of age by the time his contract extension concludes because of the lack of hard miles on Anderson.

He would be right.

Anderson only has 146 career AHL appearances and 213 NHL appearances under his belt prior to joining the Senators. Adding his 29 games of professional playoff experience to that, Anderson had 388 games under his belt.

In an exclusive interview with The Athletic’s James Gordon, Anderson reflected on his career and described how his smaller body of work may allow him to avoid the sharp decline that ageing goaltenders typically experience.

I was fortunate enough to watch a lot of hockey early in my career (laughs). If you look at a guy like (Roberto Luongo), he’ll probably play his 1,000th game this year, and I’ve only played 500, so in theory, I have half as many man-games on my body and we’re pretty much close to the same age. It’s about managing it. You have to do the work off the ice more so later in your career than you do earlier. I mean, earlier, you’re building strength, and as you get older, you’re trying to maintain flexibility and injury prevention. I think we’ve got that pretty much figured out. I went through hip surgery 12 years ago now, 13 years ago, so I’ve been through that, I learned from that, I learned what I need to do to be able to contort my body in weird situations on the ice without getting hurt.”

Age comes for everyone, but in consideration of everything that Anderson has gone through and experienced recently, I wouldn’t write off his ability to persevere and continue to play at a high level.

With an uncertain future in goal beyond Anderson, they’ll need him to play well so that they are afforded the time to find or develop their heir apparent.

Senators Roster Gets Trimmed

Today the Senators announced that they have waived Max McCormick for the purpose of returning him to the AHL, but the team also sent defencemen Ben Harpur and Thomas Chabot to Belleville.

I thought Harpur really struggled in the team’s Kraft Hockeyville game versus New Jersey and his performance never really bounced back, so his departure wasn’t really that surprising.

McCormick’s dismissal is only intriguing because the combination of his late draft pick status and gritty characteristics left me with the impression that he was an organizational darling who seemed destined to land a spot on the team’s fourth line – especially since he signed a two-year contract this offseason that will pay him one-way money ($650,000) next season.

Seeing an uber-prospect like Chabot be demoted isn’t really that surprising because the organization is relying so heavily on his development to be successful. They desperately need him to be the player they believe him to be, so seeing the organization be conservative with his development isn’t surprising – especially with how the rushed development of prospects like Cody Ceci and Curtis Lazar may have worked against them. (As an aside, there isn’t some one-size fits all formula for how to develop prospects. What works for one player won’t necessarily work for another, but no one will ever accuse an organization of irreparably damaging a player’s development by taking it slow with them. Taking it slow allows players the opportunity to have success at lower levels before moving up the ranks, but it also allows the organization to escape criticism if the development goes awry.)

Coupled with the fact the organization has left defencemen on the parent roster like Dion Phaneuf, Johnny Oduya, Mark Borowiecki and Fredrik Claesson and reports suggesting that Erik Karlsson is close to a return, sending Chabot to Belleville is the safe play. Even if he’s already better than many of the placeholders who remain here in town.

The Athletic Ottawa

On a personal note, I’m proud to say that I’m now contributing to The Athletic Ottawa.

For those unfamiliar, The Athletic is a sports journalism website that brings strong local analysis and reporting to die-hard sports fans.

After launching in a number of bigger markets, The Athletic finally expanded to Ottawa and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have my writing be featured on a bigger platform.

The work is behind a paywall, but the belief is that a sports audience will pay for content so long as it is good.

With the Ottawa chapter, most of the work will be written by Ottawa Citizen sports editor James Gordon, but you can expect to see weekly articles from me. There will also be contributions from HockeyViz.com’s excellent Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath), Puckplusplus.com’s Matt Cane (@Cane_Matt) and Ary Maharaj (@carteciel). This week I penned an article weighing the pros and cons of a prospective Matt Duchene trade scenario.

Beyond the local content, the site has hired Pierre Lebrun and former ESPN Insider writers Corey Pronman and Craig Custance.

A subscription not only gets you access to their content, it gives you the ability to read any article from any market on the platform. The Athletic appeals to more than just hockey fans however. They have some of the baseball industry’s biggest players in Ken Rosenthal and Peter Gammons. Their Toronto Blue Jays coverage is also exceptional, so for me, the value in becoming a subscriber is there.

Hopefully if you’re reading this, you’re already a member, but if you’re on the fence. Give it a chance and hopefully our work and the work being done there will convince you to make it a must-visit site that is part of your daily routine.

Other News and Notes: 

  • The Senators have announced that they will have a house band that will play at home games next season. Fans can vote on naming the band via the Senators’ official site, but it’s disappointing to see that the organization didn’t open up the process for other suggestions. Fans should be able to vote for names like ‘Bonk’s Adventure’ or ‘Van (H)Allen’.
  • According to Hockey Central’s Nick Kypreos, the Senators are balking at giving Kyle Turris a seven or eight-year deal. According to Kypreos, Turris is looking to sign an extension worth $40 to $50-million depending on the length of the deal. If I was the Ottawa Senators, I’d be balking at committing those kinds of dollars and years to a player who will spend the majority of that contract in his 30’s.
  • In an interview with TSN 1200 this week, general manager Pierre Dorion acknowledged that he is looking at extending Mark Borowiecki. Blech.

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