Two teams outside the playoff picture made an interesting goalie swap this morning as Colorado has sent slumping netminder Craig Anderson to Ottawa for Brian Elliott.
Both goaltenders were surprising successes last season. Anderson was a No. 1 for the first time in his career and helped the Avalanche to the playoffs. He led the League in saves and shots against after playing 71 games. This year he has an .897 save percentage and a 3.28 GAA.
Elliott moved in front of an injured/ineffective Pascal Leclaire on Ottawa's depth chart and started 55 games with a 2.57 GAA and a .909 save percentage. He struggled in the playoffs against Pittsburgh and it carried into this season. He's 13-19-8 with a 3.19 GAA and an .894 save percentage.
Anderson is an unrestricted free agent at season's end, while the soon-to-be 26-year-old Elliott is a restricted free agent. Both goalies could have a chance to earn a new contract, either with their new team or to catch the eye of a scout from another club, in the final few weeks of the season. This could end up being a classic "change of scenery" trade, or it could end up not mattering much in the grand scheme of things for either franchise.
It would seem this trade is a clear move in Robin Lehner's direction as Ottawa's goaltender of the future. That future could be as soon as opening night in 2011-12, because Leclaire is a pending UFA as well. Colorado's future at the goaltending position remains in question. The Avalanche have prospect Calvin Pickard, but he's nowhere near ready for the NHL.
If anything, the trade of Anderson signals Colorado will be shopping for a goaltender this summer. There could be some interesting options available. Tomas Vokoun, Ilya Bryzgalov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere are all pending UFAs. So is Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, and Colorado making a run at him would certainly add some spice to that rivalry.