Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said after the NHL Draft that he expected the team’s third goaltender, Craig Anderson, to retire over the offseason.
Craig instead opted to come back for his 19th season after inking a one-year pact with the Buffalo Sabres on the first day of free agency. The deal will play Anderson the veteran minimum of $750k.
We have signed goaltender Craig Anderson to a one-year deal worth $750,000.
Welcome to Buffalo, Craig!
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) July 29, 2021
Anderson jumped at the opportunity after Buffalo saw both of its goaltenders bolt in free agency. Linus Ullmark, who started 20 games for the Sabres last season, signed a four-year deal worth $5 million a season with the Boston Bruins. Ullmark was one of the lowly Sabres’ bright spots, posting a 9-6-3 record, 2.63 goals against average, and .917 save percentage during the 2020-21 campaign.
Meanwhile, Carter Hutton, who started 13 games, signed a one-year, $750k contract with the Arizona Coyotes. Hutton was abysmal in net sporting a 3.47 GAA and .886 SV%.
As of now, the 40-year-old Anderson will share the net with fellow UFA signing Aaron Dell, 32, who signed a $750k contract Wednesday as well. Buffalo also has veteran netminders Dustin Tokarski and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen waiting in the wings in the minors and could potentially add another goalie if they trade star forward Jack Eichel.
Anderson, who has the fifth-most wins in NHL history, was one of the Capitals’ best stories of the 2020-21 season. Caps GM Brian MacLellan signed Anderson shortly before training camp as depth after Henrik Lundqvist was ruled out for the season due to a heart condition. Anderson spent nearly the entire season on the taxi squad as the third-string goaltender, but due to Ilya Samsonov’s two stints in protocol, actually saw playing time during the regular season. In four appearances, Anderson posted a 2.13 GAA and .915 SV%.
In the playoffs, Anderson replaced an injured Vanecek in Game One, and started Game Two, with both Vanecek and Samsonov unavailable, against the Bruins. Anderson gave the Capitals their only win of the playoffs and posted a 2.67 GAA, and a .929 SV%.
Since the season ended, Anderson has returned home to his family where he serves as a coach for his son’s baseball team.
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