9 staff members assigned grades for each player on the Ottawa Senators providing us with aggregate final grades.
Up first: goaltenders. Since Chris Driedger played just 23 minutes this season, he was not graded. Goaltending was a strength for the Senators in 2014-15. Let's take a look at how the Silver Seven staff ranked Ottawa's goaltenders.
Robin Lehner C+
Last Season: 36 GP, 12-15-6, 1 SO, 3.06 GAA, .913 SV%
This Season: 25 GP, 9-12-3, 0 SO, 3.02 GAA, .905 SV%
Last year's grade: B-
A hot start was the only bright spot in an otherwise difficult year for Lehner. He played quite well in October and November, covering for Ottawa's porous defense, but struggled mightily during December and January. When Craig Anderson was injured in the final game before the All-Star break, Lehner was handed the starter's job. In his month in relief he alternated strong performances (.946, .931, .972, .926 SV %) with extremely poor outings (sub .900 SV %). His season ended on February 15, when Clarke MacArthur crashed into Lehner trying to make a defensive play in a blowout loss against Carolina. Both players suffered concussions on the play but while MacArthur was able to return before the end of the season, Lehner did not play again. With trade rumours swirling before Anderson's injury and the emergence of Andrew Hammond during the streak, Lehner's future with the team remains cloudy.
Highest grade: B-
Lowest grade: C-
Craig Anderson A-
Last Season: 53 GP, 25-16-8, 4 SO, 3.00 GAA, .911 SV%
This Season: 35 GP, 14-13-8, 3 SO, 2.49 GAA, .923 SV%
Last year's grade: C+
After a disappointing 2013-14, Anderson rebounded nicely in 2014-15. Like Lehner, Andy started strong and hid many of the team's defensive woes, though the team's generally poor play under Paul MacLean hurt Anderson's record. His great season was derailed in late January when he suffered a deep bone bruise on his stick hand. Out until mid-March, Anderson closed out the season with a 1-2-1 record and an .891 SV%. He temporarily lost his starting job to Andrew Hammond, but returned to action in the playoffs, starting Game 3. He was terrific during his four playoff starts, letting in just four goals in his four games and recording a .971 SV%.
Highest grade: A
Lowest grade: B+
Andrew Hammond A+
Last Season: 1 GP, 0-0-0, 0 SO, 0 GAA, 1.00 SV%
This Season: 24 GP, 20-1-2, 3 SO, 1.79 GAA, .941
Last year's grade: N/A
In a word: incredible. When Robin Lehner went down with a concussion on February 15, many fans saw it as an opportunity to embrace tanking. After all, Hammond was a 27-year-old career minor league goaltender who had never excelled at the college or AHL level and whose numbers were less than average this season with Binghamton. He let in two goals on five shots in relief of Robin Lehner against Carolina which suggested the final two months would be a slog for the Senators. But we were in for a wonderful surprise. Hammond rebounded and won his first start, an exciting affair against Montreal, then beat Florida, before shutting out Anaheim and Los Angeles on consecutive nights in California. He went 15-0-1 to start his NHL career and surrendered two or less goals in his first 12 starts. He cooled a bit down the stretch, but he was still the driving force behind Ottawa's late season playoff push. He started the first two games of the playoffs against Montreal, losing both. He looked shaky in both starts, letting in a few bad goals in the two games. Still, he showed more than enough in the final two months of the season to earn a one-way NHL deal next season, whether that deal is with Ottawa is anyone's guess.
Highest Grade: A+
Lowest Grade: A+