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Making Sense of the Craig Anderson - Brian Elliott Trade

By now, you've read that the Avalanche have swapped struggling goaltenders with the Ottawa Senators, a one-for-one move that is very reminiscent of the Jose Theodore - David Aebischer deal of a few years ago. And yes, we accidentally foreshadowed this trade just two weeks ago when we drew comparisons to the career arc of Aebischer and Craig Anderson.

First of all, the nuts and bolts of the deal: Anderson is a 29-year old with a cap hit of $1.85 million. He'll be a UFA this summer. Elliott is a 6'2", 25-year old from Newmarket Ontario (bonus points: birthplace of Dit Clapper). His cap hit is $850,000 and will be an RFA this summer.

Craig Anderson was done in Denver. If you weren't aware of that, you haven't been paying attention. With the way this season has gone, there was no chance that he would be re-signed and a high chance that he'd be moved at the deadline. (Sandie and I were just discussing this very fact this morning and Anderson's potential trade destinations were going to be going up on a story on Monday). I'm a little surprised that he would go to Ottawa - a team that is even farther out of contention than the Avs. But the Senators are looking for a starting goalie. Pascal Leclaire has struggled with injuries and poor play since coming to the Sens and Elliott has struggled this year. So, the Sens moved Elliott for Anderson in the hopes that Andy can regain his 2009-2010 form. If so, they can re-sign him this summer and move on. If not, they've lost little and Andy can start googling Switzerland.

For the Avalanche, the move is a little less clear. In fact, it muddies the waters a bit. While Anderson was gone, Elliott does not appear to be a long term answer. He was the next to last player taken in the 2003 draft, 3 spots after new teammate David Jones. He's had some flashes in Ottawa, but in 130 NHL games his career save percentage is .903 and he has a 2.81 GAA.  You also may remember Elliott for allowing 6 goals in 25 shots when the two teams squared off in happier times earlier this year. Is Elliott the next Avalanche starter? I have a tough time picturing that. I'm more inclined to think that the Avalanche have brought in Elliott to replace Budaj as the backup next year, and the next Avalanche starter will be brought in at the deadline or, more likely, during the offseason. The Silver Seven guys would seem to agree that Elliott is not the one.

I think it's a great trade from the Sens' perspective. Andy may never regain that form, but they don't lose much on the other end. From the Avs' side of things, I think it's an "okay" deal. Anderson was going to be moved and the market for goalies is never incredibly strong, especially goalies who are struggling. It's possible Elliott exceeds expectations, but this is more likely a case of GM Greg Sherman getting the best possible return for a player that was going to be moved regardless.