Caps sign Anderson to PTO setting up a competition for the backup role


The Capitals have signed veteran goalie Craig Anderson to a professional tryout agreement (PTO), the team announced Sunday. The move sets up a goalie competition for the backup job behind Ilya Samsonov between the veteran Anderson and prospects Vitek Vanecek and Pheonix Copley.

Anderson, 39, has spent the last nine full seasons with the Ottawa Senators, but his NHL career started back in 2002. Everything was a struggle for the Senators last season, as was goaltending, and Anderson managed only a .902 save percentage and 3.25 GAA in 34 games.

For his career, Anderson has a .913 save percentage and 2.84 GAA, but in the past three seasons, his best save percentage was only a .903.

The moves sets up a goalie competition in training camp for the backup role. Though Copley has some backup experience, this most likely will be a two-man race between Anderson and Vanecek. Vanecek beat out Copley in the 2020 postseason for the backup job and it seems unlikely Copley would be able to beat out Vanecek just a few months later despite the change in head coach especially considering that the goalie coach, Scott Murray, was retained.

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Vanecek has no NHL experience at all and Samsonov now has only 26 games which would make for a very young and very inexperienced tandem. Anderson certainly has more experience with 648 NHL games, but only once has made it deep in the postseason when he helped Ottawa come within one goal of the Stanley Cup Final in 2017.


One factor that will make this a difficult competition is the fact that there are no preseason games. The competition will essentially take place entirely in training camp which will make it difficult for head coach Peter Laviolette to glean just what he can expect from either netminder in game situations this year. Related: Brian MacLellan calls Henrik Lundqvist's risk level 'not acceptable' to play

There may ultimately be room for both players in Washington given each team will have to carry three goalies this season (at least two on the roster and one on the taxi squad), but it would have to be a cheap deal to keep Anderson considering how limited the team's cap space is.

Anderson's cap hit in 2019-20 was $4.75 million. At 39 years old, that price tag will certainly be lower, but will it be low enough to make it work with the Caps? The fact that he was willing to sign a PTO with no preseason meaning he won't be able to showcase himself to other teams suggests that it might.

If you were hoping for a goalie tandem to go with the young Samsonov this season, Anderson is an underwhelming candidate, but, after the recent news that Henrik Lundqvist will miss the season due to a heart condition, the Caps are now in a situation where they cannot be overly picky.