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Numbers Game: Sens and Avs swap goaltenders

Scott Cullen
2/18/2011 1:19:32 PM
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Two goaltenders having poor seasons look for fresh starts in a Colorado-Ottawa swap.

Numbers Game looks at the Anderson-for-Elliott deal.

The Senators Get: G Craig Anderson.

Anderson, 29, was one of the great breakthrough stories of the 2009-2010 season, but it's been an entirely different story this year.

A career backup until last season, Anderson played 71 games for the Avalanche, posting a 2.63 goals against average and .917 save percentage, leading the surprising Avs into the postseason. 

This year, Anderson has struggled to the point that he had been splitting starts with Peter Budaj.  In 33 games, Anderson has a 3.28 goals against average and .897 save percentage, both marks his worst since 2005-2006, and all while facing a very similar number of shots (31.72 per 60 minutes this season, 31.64 per 60 last year).

An unrestricted free agent at season's end, Anderson is a relatively modest $1,812,500 (per www.capgeek.com) cap hit for the Sens, who are clearly playing for next season and beyond after jettisoning veterans Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly and Jarkko Ruutu in recent weeks.

Thus, Anderson doesn't have great value for the rest of this season, playing behind a failing team, but it gives the Senators a free look at him, with the possibility of signing him in the summer to be part of a tandem with 19-year-old prospect Robin Lehner going forward.  Given how this season has gone for Anderson, he doesn't figure to command a big salary on the free agent market.

The Avalanche Get: G Brian Elliott.

25-year-old Elliott has struggled in his third NHL season, with his 3.19 goals against average and .894 save percentage both ranking as the worst marks of his career.

While Elliott may be overmatched as a starter, there is still reason to believe that he could be an adequate backup.  As a restricted free agent in the summer, that would seem to be the natural spot Elliott to fill in Colorado, though he could see some regular action over the rest of this season. 

Avs holdover Peter Budaj only has a 3.17 goals against average and .895 save percentage in 31 games ths season, so it's not like he's leaps and bounds better than Elliott. 

However, Budaj is an unrestricted free agent in the summer and if the Avalanche aren't planning on making Budaj the number one guy long-term, then it would make more sense to get Elliott more starts since his contract status would seem to make him part of next year's goaltending plan.

Barring a miraculous turnaround, though, the Avalanche will need to look for a long-term goaltending solution this summer, whether it's a free agent like Tomas Vokoun, Ilya Bryzgalov or Antti Niemi or hitting the trade market for the next Craig Anderson, a backup that is ready to take the starting reins (how about one of the Capitals' young 'tenders?).

Since Ottawa is cleaning house, they don't really lose much in this deal.  They're going to be bad for the rest of the season and the upside of having Brian Elliott on the roster next season is apparently outweighed by the cost savings of not having him on the roster.

Colorado probably figured their goaltending concerns were over after Anderson's strong season last year, but obviously they are back to the drawing board.  It's too soon for a prospect like Calvin Pickard to be considered, so the Avs have to make some moves to provide adequate goaltending behind what can still be a decent young team.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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