Remember the Hamburglar? No, not the actual McDonald’s character, but the goalie on the Senators who took the team from being miles out of the playoffs to a first wild card spot back in 2015.
Yeah, that happened two short years ago, and now when his name comes up I am reminded that he is still under contract with the team. It is amazing how little he is talked about, because I have no idea what is going to happen with him for the upcoming season.
The funny thing is, I still believe he can be an effective backup. He’s only 29 years of age and has one year left on his contract worth just $1.35M. Some people seem to think that his NHL career should be over, but I have to emphasize that he played SIX GAMES last season, which isn’t nearly enough of a sample to evaluate a goaltender on.
I’m going to make a short case as to why he’s not done yet, but I know his days in Ottawa are numbered. Nevertheless, let’s look at why he can be an asset for another team.
While Senators fans seem to believe that Hammond was only good during his unsustainable miracle run, the fact is that he was a quality backup to Craig Anderson in 2015-16 as well, but it’s easy to forget that since Ottawa missed the playoffs. That year he posted a .914 SV% and was tied for 3rd in the league in 5v5 SV% (minimum 20 GP) at .936.
Furthermore, if you include the miracle run (so 2014-2016), his 5v5 SV% moves up to .941, and his overall SV% moves up to .927, both of which are behind only Carey Price. Yes, he only played 48 games over the course of those two seasons, so there is a chance that it means nothing. However, what would you trust more: a 48-game sample that has Hammond as a .927 SV% goalie, or a six-game one that has him as a .837 SV% goalie? Neither is his true-talent level, but I’ll believe the larger sample every time.
Of course, professional sports are a “what have you done for me lately?” kind of business, and it’s understandable to be frustrated at Hammond’s terrible performances and injury struggles over the past year. That is fair criticism, and nobody really knows if he’s even able to return to full health.
However, it’ll be strange if Hammond never gets a chance on any NHL team just because of six bad games. He even cleared waivers this past season, although I wonder if that was because he had an extra year on his contract.
While I am a bit disappointed to see Ottawa essentially give up on Hammond, I’ve moved past it, and I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal. But that’s not the end of the story: they still have to figure out what they’re doing with him this season!
Anderson and Mike Condon will be the NHL goalies this season, and Danny Taylor, Marcus Hogberg, and Chris Driedger will be fighting for playing time in the AHL. Where does that leave Hammond then?
I honestly have no clue, and I’m not sure if the Senators do either.
Perhaps they know he will be injured for most of the season and can be put on LTIR, but if that’s the case, it has been kept very quiet so far. The only other options would be to send him down to the AHL, trade him, or loan him.
Sending him to the AHL would be nice, but that would mean Hogberg and Driedger would be in the ECHL, and I don’t think that’s great for their development right now. Taylor should be a lock for the Belleville team, so I just don’t see where Hammond fits on that roster.
As for a trade, the Senators would be getting essentially nothing in return. He cleared waivers, and might again in the fall. If that’s the case, then Ottawa might have to even entice a team to take him, but that would be quite ridiculous just to rid themselves of a goalie with one season left on his contract.
At this moment, Hammond is listed under “buried” on CapFriendly, but that implies he would be in Belleville, or perhaps loaned to a team in Europe. The Europe option is intriguing, and I wouldn’t actually be surprised if it happened. There just aren’t many other things the Senators can do after they decided that Condon was better and that they needed to sign Danny Taylor.
Once Condon proved himself to be a capable backup to Anderson, the writing was on the wall for Hammond as early as last December. It’s not surprising that Hammond’s career with the Senators has reached this stage, but now it really seems like his time is up in Ottawa. What the Senators will actually do with him remains to be seen though.
We’ll always have the 2015 run, Hamburglar. Thanks for everything.