Sports Hockey

Garrioch

Expect Senators to offer goalie Andrew Hammond a two-year deal

By Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun

Andrew (The Hamburglar) Hammond. (Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun)

Andrew (The Hamburglar) Hammond. (Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun)

The Hamburglar has no need to be nervous or get caught up in the signing of free agent goalie Matt O'Connor over the weekend.

It really has zero impact on what's next for Andrew Hammond.

Once Senators' assistant GM Pierre Dorion returns from the world championships in Prague later this week, he's expected to have serious talks with Hammond's Minnesota-based agent Dan Plante to see if the two sides can find common ground to keep him from becoming a UFA on July 1.

After posting an incredible 20-1-2 record to lead the Senators to the playoffs, GM Bryan Murray stated emphatically the club would offer Hammond, 27, a contract and if he signed then either veteran Craig Anderson or the 23-year-old Robin Lehner would be moved to make room on the roster.

The question is: What is Hammond worth? That's what the Senators and Plante have to decide and this situation needs to be settled before next month's NHL entry draft in Sunrise, Fla. if Murray is going to be dealing from a position of strength, with Lehner the most likely to be moved.

Given the fact O'Connor, a college free agent from Boston University, signed a two-year deal at the entry level maximum of $925,000 plus bonuses, it would only make sense the Senators would try to get Hammond signed for a similar two-year term to be the club's backup.

If Hammond is willing to accept that length of a deal that will be one hurdle cleared for the Senators and next up will the tricky part of deciding what kind of salary he should make. The feeling from league executives is a good backup should make in the $1-to-$1.3 million range per-season.

For example, Al Montoya, the backup to Florida's Roberto Luongo, will make $1.05 million next season while Calgary's Kari Ramo made $2.9 million this season as Jonas Hiller's backup. Sergei Bobrovsky's backup Curtis McElhinney in Columbus makes $650,000.

What Hammond, who only has those 23 games of experience, will have to decide is: Can he afford to pass up on whatever the Senators offer him?

Can he get more on the open market? Nobody is sure of that. He'd likely be hard-pressed to get a deal for more than two years. Questions still remain about The Hamburglar but there's no question he can be a capable backup. Has he shown he can play in the league? Yes.

Still, there are those who aren't sure about what he accomplished. He's been in the minors his whole career. We're not talking about a guy who's carrying a huge resume, mind you the NHL part of his is pretty impressive but I don't think anybody is going to hand him a starting job.

If Hammond does decide to test the market -- and this is his only chance to cash on his success -- there's no way to know if he'd get more than a two-year term. He would have the interview period in the last week of June to find out what he's worth but the Senators won't let him wait that long.

Make no mistake, the Senators will also listen to offers on Anderson, 34, who doesn't have a no trade clause. As well as Lehner who will yield the biggest return because of his age and upside potential which means he'll likely be moved if Hammond does decide to stick around.

Dorion will probably want to get down to business with Plante as soon as he returns now that O'Connor has been brought aboard. Teams interested in Lehner -- such as the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres -- will want a trade settled once the Stanley Cup final comes to a close in mid-June.

By then, the Senators need to know whether Hammond wants to be here or not.

He stated on locker clean out day he wants to be part of the picture, but that doesn't mean the Senators are going to hand him a five-year deal because he wants to stick around. That's not how it works. The Senators will want him at a reasonable price to have as good insurance if Anderson gets hurt.

The Senators are in an enviable position as far as netminders go. The decision by O'Connor to come here just boosts what they already have. The reality is, though, they can't keep them all and somebody is going to have go if Hammond doesn't try to chase greener pastures on the open market.

Hammond will be kept if he agrees to stay for the price Ottawa wants to get him at, so he shouldn't lose any sleep over the signing of O'Connor.

Twitter: @sungarrioch


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions


Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »