Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion spoke to the media today, for the first time since June. There were a lot of key takeaways for Sens fans going into the biggest draft in franchise history, but perhaps the most striking among them was Dorion’s confirmation that Craig Anderson has played his last game as an Ottawa Senator.
When asked about the 39 year-old’s status as a pending free agent, GMPD confirmed that the team would not be offering Anderson a contract extension.
Dorion says they've told Craig Anderson he won't be offered a deal. "He's the best goalie we've ever had," said Dorion. "It's time for us to take another direction and we thank him for everything he did." #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) September 23, 2020
The writing has been on the wall for Anderson, seeing a decline in his numbers over the past three seasons. The Sens’ all-time greatest netminder has posted an aggregate .901SV%, and 3.36GAA since the beginning of the 2017-2018 season. With younger goaltenders such as Anders Nilsson, and Marcus Högberg coming into their own, the time seems right for a parting of ways.
Anderson was traded to Ottawa from the Colorado Avalanche, in exchange for fellow netminder Brian Elliott in February of 2011. For a team that had long struggled to find a steady solution in net, Anderson made an immediate impact on a re-tooling Sens squad. From 2011-2017, Anderson boasted a record of 140-99-34, posting a 2.44GAA and .925SV%.
Andy will, of course, be most fondly remembered for his contributions to the 2017 Eastern Conference Final run. On a run where the team was utterly shelled in the shots on goal department, Anderson was arguably just as vital to the team as a peaking Erik Karlsson, with a .923SV% and 2.34GAA in 19 games.
For Anderson, the most likely option appears to be retirement, but you never know. Perhaps there’s a team looking to shore up their goaltending depth, and Andy suits up for one last ride.
He finishes his career in Ottawa as the franchise’s all-time goaltending leader in games played (435), wins (202), saves (12447), and second in shutouts (28).
As far as the rest of Dorion’s availability goes, it was mainly a “State of the Organization” address ahead of the upcoming draft. GMPD played his cards close to the chest, in terms of negotiations with impending free agents, but also made it clear that the team would look internally before turning to the market to address team needs.
He offered a health update on Anders Nilsson, saying that the hulking Swedish netminder has still not returned to the ice since suffering a concussion in December of 2019, but that he is expected to be ready for the start of the 2020-2021 season.
For the draft itself, Dorion mentioned that only Canadian scouts will be available to the team, due to restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Head scout Trent Mann will be running the draft.
One of the more interesting nuggets, however, came from the French portion of Dorion’s availability.
Concernant une prolongation de contrat pour Brady Tkachuk, Dorion dit que «la situation est différente de Thomas Chabot l'an passé, on avait commencé les négos plus tôt. On va voir comment ça va se passer dans la LNH et ensuite on va discuter avec lui.»— Marc Brassard (@mbrassard) September 23, 2020
Translation: Regarding a contract extension for Brady Tkachuk, Dorion said that “the situation is different from Thomas Chabot last year, we started negotiations earlier. We’re going to see how it’s going in the NHL and then we’ll talk to him”
While it’s worth tempering any kind of initial reactions to this - Brady isn’t an RFA until after next season - this is sure to cause some concern among Sens fans. While I can’t imagine that Brady Tkachuk will be playing for a different team in 2021-2022, it doesn’t sound like negotiations will go as quickly as they did with Thomas Chabot and Colin White.
Round 1 of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft takes place on Tuesday, October 6th.