NHL News: Has Craig Anderson Found His Place in Net for the Ottawa Senators?

April WeinerCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2011

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 10:  Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators tends net against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center on March 10, 2011 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Ottawa Senators signed impending free-agent goaltender Craig Anderson to a four-year deal today. The deal is worth $12.75 million dollars.

The extension may come as a surprise, since Anderson has never really been a standout in net. Sure, he's been a solid goaltender in his career, but never anything spectacular really.

However, so far in 10 games in net for the Senators, Anderson has better numbers than he has had all year. In Colorado, before being traded, Anderson was 13-15.

Since joining Ottawa, Anderson has been 6-4. That's with a Senators team that has been struggling through injuries and a transition period.

During those 10 games, Anderson also boasts a 2.11 goals against average, the lowest in his career, and a .938 save percentage, the highest of his career.

Under Brian Elliott, whom the Sens exchanged for Anderson, the team was 13-19. Elliott had a 3.19 GAA and a .894 save percentage. Clearly, the Senators traded up.

When crunching the numbers, it shouldn't be surprising to see Anderson locked down. Even though it is early in Anderson's time with Ottawa, he's already performed better than his predecessor.

Before the extension, Anderson was set to become a free agent. Teams in need of goaltending may have made a bid for Anderson, seeing the improvement in his and Ottawa's numbers. This way, the Senators circumvent that scenario and keep Anderson.

Of course, the plan could backfire if Anderson is out long term with an injury or his numbers go down, but for now it seems like a good move.

Psychologists say positive reinforcement is the best way to get the behavior you expect. Since the Senators expect to win, and Anderson so far has helped deliver that, it only seems natural to reward him with a contract extension.