Making sense of the Anderson/Elliott trade

In an odd move earlier today, the Colorado Avalanche traded goaltender Craig Anderson for Ottawa Senators goalie Brian Elliott. Being the nerd I am with goalie stats, I get excited when a straight up goalie-for-goalie swap happens. This one was definitely really confusing when first looking at it, we’ve got two goalies who are UFA’s at the end of the year and are having bad seasons. The way I see it is that it works as a salary dump for the Avs while the Sens improve their goaltending. The more I think about it, the more I think that both teams did this trade just for the sake of doing one.

This is really the only “bad” season Anderson has had in his career so far.

2008 FLA 17 13 408 19 389 0.953 13.8 40.6 0.71
2010 COL 71 71 1755 130 1625 0.926 11.7 8.0 0.16
2009 FLA 31 27 753 54 699 0.928 7.0 11.2 0.23
2011 COL 33 31 763 70 693 0.908 -8.9 -14.0 -0.44

Definitely the worst season Anderson’s had in his career but his other numbers aren’t bad at all, especially last year. He was only making $2.125 mil this year, too and his cap hit was less than $2 mil. The downside to him is that he’s 29 and this rough season could be the sign that he’s on the downturn of his career and the Avs would rather not re-sign him since he’s a free agent this off-season. What about Brian Elliott, though?

Brian Elliott 2009 OTT 31 30 628 50 578 0.920 0.9 1.7 0.03
Brian Elliott 2010 OTT 55 48 1089 101 988 0.907 -13.1 -14.4 -0.28
Brian Elliott 2011 OTT 43 39 906 94 812 0.896 -21.4 -28.6 -0.91

It seems he’s getting worse with each season and he’s been getting a lot of time as the #1 goaltender in Ottawa with Pascal Leclaire being injured and struggling. It’s clear the Sens don’t think he’s the one and with Robin Lehner waiting in the wings, they can start to look forward to the future with their goaltending. Leclaire’s contract expires after this season so if Anderson plays well enough for Ottawa down the stretch, they can re-sign him. They know what they have in Elliott and they probably weren’t going to re-sign him so it’s better to see what they have with someone like Anderson instead since he’s had a history of playing well on bad teams.

The Avs meanwhile, clear up some cap room but are now stuck with a goaltending tandem of Elliott and Peter Budaj (who is really only useful as a back-up). I’m not liking how that sounds for the Avs even if they were out of the playoff chase anyway. I know the goalie market is rough but you would think they could get more from the Sens, for Anderson. Then again, with the year Andy is having, it’s probably best to sell low.

I think it’s clear that Ottawa got the best end of this deal since Anderson’s upside is much higher and assuming they let Leclaire walk, it looks better for the future. I think the chances of Anderson re-signing are low, though since he’s a UFA and there will be some other teams looking to sign him. This will probably be Elliott’s last chance to prove himself since he’s a free agent after this season, too. He’s had good performances but is widely inconsistent. If he has a good showing with the Avs, it will make his value increase just a little.


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