Now that Craig Anderson has been informed by the Ottawa Senators that he won’t be offered a new contract and can test the market as a free agent, the next question is: How is Anders Nilsson?
Pierre Dorion was clear what he thought about Anderson, “He’s the best goalie we’ve ever had.” Then, there’s a big but … “It’s time for us to take another direction and we thank him for everything he did.”
In fact, Anderson truly is the best goalie in Senators’ recent history. He spent parts of 10 seasons with the Senators – starting in 2010-11 and playing until the end of the 2019-20 regular season. Anderson holds franchise goalie records for games and wins. Last season, playing behind a hockey team that was overmatched almost every game, he logged a record of 11-17-2 with a goals-against-average of 3.25 and a save percentage of .902.
I’ve always been a Craig Anderson fan and his story of him and his wife working together to battle her throat cancer during the 2016-17 season was touching. In 2016, Nicholle Anderson was diagnosed with throat cancer. Fortunately, she was able to report that she was cancer-free in May 2017. Although Anderson missed time taking care of his wife and children, he played a major role in the Senators’ reaching the 2017 Conference Finals.
Anderson was one of the good guys, as one can tell by his relationship with Bryan Murray and his wife Geri. I wish him good luck whatever happens.
What’s the Status of Anders Nilsson?
The quick answer is that Anders Nilsson should be ready to play full-time next season.
General manager Pierre Dorion announced that he expects Nilsson, who suffered from concussion symptoms much of the season, to be completely healthy and ready for full-time game action when the 2020-21 campaign gets underway.
Nilsson missed the second half of the 2019-20 season (36 games in total) because of a concussion. However, during April he passed the “baseline” testing for concussions and should be back to 100 percent when the new season starts – whenever that might be.
By the way, according to the Canadian government, baseline testing for concussions includes a check for concussion symptoms, which includes checking for balance and cognitive (such as concentration and memory) assessments. Sometimes computerized or paper-pencil tests can be used to assess the neuropsychological activity. That mostly means that the goal is to test an athlete’s concentration, memory, and reaction time to get an overall baseline of how he can react and think. The good news is that Nilsson passed these.
Because Anderson isn’t re-signing with the team, that means Nilsson and Marcus Hogberg might fight it out to become the Senators’ starting goalie during training camp. The 30-year-old Nilsson had a 9-9-2 record with a goals-against-average of 3.18 and a save percentage of 0.908 in the 20 games he played during the 2019-20 season.
Senators Goalie Coach Pierre Groulx Speaks with Nilsson Weekly
As a way to keep track of Nilsson’s progress, Senators general manager Dorion reports that goalie coach Pierre Groulx has been checking in weekly with Nilsson. If he’s healthy, he’s likely to become the team’s starting goalie in 2020-21.
During May 2020, Groulx told the Ottawa Sun that Nilsson “was inches away from playing in a game (in February) and then he had a setback and with a concussion, you just never know when it’s going to hit you again. It’s been tough on him, really tough on him, because his game was really coming along before he got hurt. Injuries happen, he’s going to find a way to build through this.” (from, “Questions remain around the Ottawa Senators’ goaltending when the season begins,” Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun, 20/08/20)
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