Just who is Craig Anderson? Before he was signed by the Colorado Avalanche on July 1st, 2009 I would be willing to bet that a majority of Avalanche fans had no idea who he was. Even after he signed with the team there were probably a lot of people out there who thought, "He was Florida's goalie? There's probably a reason he didn't get resigned."
I was part of the first group that really didn't have any idea who he was. I did catch the occassional Panther game on NHL Center Ice and thought he could be a really great goalie if he could just get the hell out of Florida. Then, July 1st came around and I read that we signed the Park Ridge, Illinois native to a 2 year contract at just over $1.8 million per season. I'll be honest, my first thought was, well, if he doesn't work out, at least it's only a 2 year contract.
I must say that I, like every single Avalanche fan on the planet, couldn't be happier with what he has been able to do in just over half of a season in the Unipron.
After the jump we will take in depth look at the man behind the mask know as "Andy"
#41 / Goalie / Colorado Avalanche
May 21, 1981
|2009 - Craig Anderson||44||2639||26||12||107||2.43||1410||1303||.924||5|
Surprisingly, Craig Anderson was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 3rd round (77th overall) during the 1999 entry draft. However, due to the Flames being...well, the Flames, they failed to sign him to a contract so Anderson re-entered the draft in 2001 where he was taken again in the 3rd round (73rd overall). One thing that I will always do when I find out where someone was drafted, is take a look at who was taken before them as the potential "future" of an NHL team.
Ilya Kovalchuk was taken 1st overall that year by the Atlanta Thrashers. This was also a very talented draft as far as goaltenders were concerned. Goalies taken ahead of Anderson, Pascal Leclaire (8th overall), Dan Blackburn (10th overall), Jason Bacashihua (26th overall), Adam Munro (29th overall), then the most ironic of them all. With Colorado's first pick in the 2001 NHL draft, they selected non other than Peter Budaj (63rd overall).
After being drafted, he never really was able to get his shot in the NHL. For much of the first 5 years of his NHL career he bounced back and fourth between the AHL and NHL. In 2006 he was traded to the Florida Panthers where it looked like he was going to finally get his shot to prove that he was worthy of being a starting goalie in the NHL and was on the heels of Roberto Luongo being shipped to Vancouver. Again, he spent a majority of the 2006-07 season in the AHL.
In 2007-08 he managed to work his way into the crease as for a meer 17 games. He posted good numbers (2.24 GAA and a .935 Save %), but still couldn't manage to jump over Tomas Vokun for the starting job.
In 2008-09 he appeared in 31 games with a 2.71 GAA and a .924 save percentage, pretty decent numbers for playing on a Florida team that was toward the bottom half of the league in goals against. After what he felt was a breakout season, he decided that he was going to test the free agent market and see where he landed. Thank God he did.
Now, I have a hard time saying that July 1st, 2009 will be looked back on as a day that changed the Colorado Avalanche like that cold December day in 1995 when the Avalanche made "the trade". It's definitely way too early to say that Anderson is going to have that type of an effect on this franchise, but the early indication is that we may be heading in that direction.
Don't get me wrong, I am probably one of the biggest Patrick Roy fans out there. I drove over 8 and a half hours from Southeastern Connecticut to Toronto, ON in November 2006 and paid over $300 for 2 tickets to attend the Hall of Fame Induction Gala. Then found out from a writer at the Toronto Sun where most of the people in town for the ceremony were staying. I made my way over to the hotel, pulled up a stool at the hotel bar, waited and that was when my wildest dream came true. I not only meet St. Patrick, but was invited to join him, his wife, Pierre Lacroix (he was the one who took this picture), Ray Bourque and his wife for an ice cold Canadian adult beverage.
Here is a quick comparison of the two goalies in the first 40 or so games with the Avalanche (Note, these stats are as of Wednesday night):
Patrick Roy Craig Anderson
Games played: 39 43
Wins: 22 26
Goals Against: 103 106
GAA: 2.68 2.46
Sv %: .909 .923
Shutouts: 1 5
Now this is not to say that Craig Anderson is even in the same realm as goalies in the NHL as Patrick Roy, meerly just a statistical comparison of their first 40 or so games with the Avalanche franchise. Hopefully though, Craig Anderson can match the most important thing Roy accomplished during his time in Denver, and that is bringing a Stanley Cup back to Denver. Only time will tell.