Because the Ottawa Senators were not going to make the playoffs, April 5 would have marked the end of the team’s NHL season. It was a season in which, although everyone knew the team was in the midst of a rebuild, the team played better than many suspected. In fact, until about the halfway point the team stayed at about an even clip – winning almost as many as they lost.
In my estimation, although the team could have tanked it (many teams would for a lottery pick or a high draft choice), head coach D.J. Smith had the team playing with pride and as if they cared. They competed.
Still, in the long run, the team simply didn’t have enough talent on a game-by-game basis, and that spelled defeat. It wasn’t until the last portion of the season when the losses began to mount up.
In this post, I want to look at how the Senators goalies played throughout the season, where they ended up, and where they’ll likely land for next season.
Anders Nilsson’s Season Was Pained By Injury
As the season wound down, Anders Nilsson was still recovering from an injury (a concussion) that he suffered in his last game, which was on December 26. In total, Nilsson missed almost three months with that concussion.
In truth, Nilsson really wasn’t having a great season before his injury and, because the Senators were rebuilding, there seemed to be little rush to play him. Next season, I would guess that the competition in goal would be between Nilsson and Marcus Hogberg. I can’t know this for a fact, but my guess would be that Craig Anderson would be somewhere else or even retired.
Let’s hope that Nilsson’s concussion is better. Often players are forced to retire from what seems like a simple bump on the head – Eric Lindros is one example of a good player whose career ended too early.
Craig Anderson Likely Finishes Senators’ Career on a Strong Stretch
After coming over from the Colorado Avalanche during the 2010-11 season, Craig Anderson played the better part of 10 seasons with the Senators. His career in Canada’s capital city was stellar actually and, in 2016-17, he recorded his best winning percentage with a 25-11-4 record.
Although this wasn’t Anderson’s best season with the Senators, it likely wasn’t many players’ best season with the team. That said, just prior to the end of the season – the final three games actually – Anderson played quite well. His record was 2-1-0 and, of the 111 shots he faced, he stopped 104 of them. He still has it every once in a while.
Anderson’s getting older (he’ll be 39 in May) and he’ll also become an unrestricted free agent when the season ends. One has to feel as if the Senators’ management is likely to move on to another option in goal – I’m thinking Hogberg.
There’s no doubt that Anderson can still play well, but if he wishes to continue to play he might be one of those players (think Jason Spezza who signed with the Maple Leafs at an NHL league minimum). Anderson’s from Park Ridge, Illinois, which is less than 20 miles from the Chicago city center – so, who knows? Might that be a match if he wants to go home?
Marcus Hogberg Led the Senators in Goals-Against-Average this Season
Marcus Hogberg looks to me to be the Senators’ goalie of the future. This season, Hogberg led the Senators with a 3.12 goals-against-average. Nilsson’s came in second at 3.18. Both Swedish goalies look to be core players for the team next season.
Although on its own Hogberg’s goals-against-average doesn’t seem that impressive, but in a post that I wrote about two months ago I maintained that his play was better than his record indicated. I still stand by that assessment.
My call is that the Senators’ organization sees Hogberg as having future value. Although as fans we will see how the organization plays it, the youngest Senators goalie at 25-years-old (Nilsson is 30-years-old) will likely get a good chance to win the number one goalie job in 2020-21.
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