Anders Nilsson will not be testing the unrestricted free agent waters.
On Wednesday, the Ottawa Senators announced they re-signed their backup goaltender to a two-year contract extension. Nilsson’s new contract is worth a total of $5.2 million for an average annual value of $2.6 million per year.
“We’re very happy to have Anders back for two more seasons,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said in a statement. “He is a competitive, talented veteran who played very well after being acquired last season. In addition, Anders is a great teammate and hard worker, which makes him an excellent fit with our growing team. This signing provides us with stability at the goaltending position, which is very important to our success as our team continues to develop.”
Change of Scenery
Nilsson greatly benefited from a change of scenery last year.
Ottawa acquired the Swedish goalie from the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 2 in a multi-player trade. In addition, the Senators also added Darren Archibald in exchange for Mike McKenna, Tom Pyatt, and a 2019 sixth-round pick. It is safe to declare the Senators as winners of the game day deal between the two teams, six months later.
In 2018-19, Nilsson was 3-8-1 with .895 save percentage and 3.09 goals against average with the Canucks. After the trade to Ottawa, Nilsson’s record, save percentage, and goals against average all improved. Even more impressively, Nilsson made these improvements while the Senators finished last place in the NHL. At the end of the season, Nilsson was 11-11-0 with .914 save per cent and 2.90 goals against average in the red, black, and white jersey.
Throughout his career, the 6’6”, 232-pound goalie has appeared in 141 games with six different teams. They include the New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, Canucks, and Senators. To date, he has earned a record of 50-65-13, along with .907 save per cent and 3.04 goals against average. The 29-year-old Swedish native was selected in the third-round of the 2009 NHL draft by the New York Islanders.
To date, it has been a great turnaround story for Nilsson.
The Senators have a crowded crease for next season. After re-signing Nilsson, they now have five goalies under contract. The others include Craig Anderson and Mike Condon in Ottawa, while Filip Gustavsson and Joey Daccord could be ready in Belleville. Marcus Hogberg, another Senators goalie prospect, remains a restricted free agent. If Dorion opts to retain his services, Hogberg will be goaltender number six.
Although extending Nilsson adds more stability between the pipes, it also raises questions about how Dorion plans to manage this area of the team. The status of Condon’s health, the amount of playing time for Anderson, Hogberg’s future with the organization, and quality opportunities for Ottawa’s goalie prospects are just some questions that remain unanswered.
It has been a busy week for Dorion.
Nilsson’s extension comes just a day after the Senators signed Josh Norris to a three-year entry level contract. Norris, a former 2017 first-round pick, was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in September 2018 as a key piece of the Erik Karlsson trade. The 20-year-old will be a significant part of the team’s rebuild moving forward.
It also comes nearly a week after Dorion announced the hiring of D.J. Smith as Ottawa’s new head coach.
Entering their second year of rebuilding, the Senators knew they would have a busy off-season. Senator fans can likely expect more roster changes in the near future as draft day and the free agent frenzy approach.
Billy Morrison lives in Ottawa and covers the Ottawa Senators for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.