One of the most attractive trade bargaining chips that the Senators have at the moment is veteran netminder Craig Anderson. He's been having a solid season, despite the team's woes, and would no doubt be an attractive commodity for teams in search of a net stability.
That lead's us to the weekly question: What Would a Craig Anderson Trade Yield for the Ottawa Senators?
There's no denying that the Senators are struggling. They need to make a decision whether they're going to be buyers or sellers between now and the trade deadline. Either way, Craig Anderson might be key in garnering a return of some value. However, what should be expected if the Senators do decide to move their starting goaltender?
Anderson's Curriculum Vitae
As I mentioned, Anderson has been good and I don't think his trade value could be higher. He's played in 26 games, posting a 10-10-6 record, which may not seem impressive in itself, but his other statistics are. He has a .926 SV% and three shutouts. Only Rinne, Price, and Luongo have played more games and have better SV% (Rinne has the best at .929). What's even more impressive is that he's faced 838 shots in just 26 games and has saved 776 of them. This puts him in a - dare I say it - elite goaltending class this season. Overall, Anderson has been solid since being in Ottawa, with the exception of some lacklustre play last year. He's had to deal with a porous defense and has single-handedly stolen games for the Senators that they had no business winning.
Who Doesn't Like a Bargain?
Anderson obviously won't be a rental to a team, given his three-year extension he signed in August at an AAV of $4.2M (it is front-loaded, mind you). Thus, he's a bargain for the type of goalie he is. The knock against him is that he's 34 this year, which may make some team leery of him. Nonetheless, I'm sure teams who need a good goalie wouldn't mind having Anderson.
Aye, the Rub with Trading Goaltenders
There are teams who could use a goalie like Anderson, that's obvious, but what kind of return would he garner for the Senators. I've read a lot of tweets and Facebook posts about what people think we could get for Andy, but I think expectations may be too high. Recently, a number of goalies have been traded and here are some of the returns:
1. Ottawa trades Bishop to Tampa Bay for Conacher and a fourth-rounder
2. Buffalo trades Miller and Ott to St. Louis for Halak, Stewart, Carrier, 2015 first-rounder, Conditional 2016 pick
3. Vancouver trades Luongo and Anthony to Florida for Markstrom and Matthias. Vancouver retains 15% of Luongo's salary
4. Vancouver trades Schneider to New Jersey for a first-round pick (Horvat, essentially).
5. Los Angeles trades Bernier for Scrivens, Frattin, second-rounder
6. Columbus trades Mason for Philadelphia's Leighton, third-rounder
7. Washington trades Varlamov to Colorado for first-rounder (Forsberg) and second-rounder
So as you can see, some of these returns are not very good, with the exception of Miller and Varlamov (except Washington traded Forsberg, oops). Now, looking at some of these trades, you might be thinking, "Some of those goalies weren't proven and others were rentals or had bad contracts." These two pieces of information are very true. If the Senators do consider moving Anderson, he's at least proven and on a good contract.
I still haven't tried to answer my own question yet though. What return would Murray get if he traded Anderson? I don't think Murray would settle for another Bishop-type deal, not for his coveted Andy, so his asking price will be high. I imagine it could be something like a late 1st round pick, a backup goalie, and maybe a second rounder, similar to the Varlamov trade. Murray could make a more attractive package like Anderson and Methot or Anderson and a prospect (maybe Puempel) to get a bit more return like the Miller trade. If they included Methot, they could squeak out a first, second, backup, and a prospect from a desperate team, but that's a big maybe. One thing that does seem a bit more certain is that the trades often include a goalie coming back. I imagine Murray would want this as well, since Lehner needs a solid enough backup who isn't named Andrew Hammond. Those scenarios are good, but it depends on who the Senators trade with and how badly they need a goalie.
Full-Price or Wholesale?
When scouring through teams who might be interested in him, I immediately think of Minnesota, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and even San Jose or perhaps Buffalo (if they choose not to re-sign Neuvirth or Enroth). If, for example, Minnesota continues to struggle because of their weak goaltending, they may become desperate for Anderson and Murray would have some leverage for bargaining. They may be willing to pay the premium for him if they think they can make a playoff run. Edmonton has a lot of attractive young players that may be moved at the right price too, especially since they're never going to get better if they can't solidify their net. They won't make the playoffs again, so they may not be as gung-ho to pay a hefty price. Winnipeg could also be seen as a potential destination; however, Hutchison is playing well. What makes things muddier is that Winnipeg is currently sitting in the last wildcard spot. If they are still in that position and become buyers at the deadline, Anderson might intrigue them at the right price. If they fall, they'll probably continue to roll with Hutchison and Pavelec until the season ends and re-evaluate. The main take home is that goalie trades are hard to predict because they essentially depend on the desperation of the team in need of a goalie.
Now, I've written this as a hypothetical piece to illustrate what might happen if the Senators are willing to part with Andy, but should they even trade him? Maybe they want to move Robin Lehner instead - he might garner more of a return than Anderson if he's part of a package. That's another thing that management has to decide. The organization seems to want to push to make the playoffs and I doubt they'd want to move Anderson if they feel they might have a chance. If they accept that they need to continue the rebuild, maybe he does become available. Basically, the Senators have a lot of difficult decisions to make right now and Craig Anderson's future - coupled with the future of the team moving forward - is one of them.
Thank you for reading!