Fate has not always been kind to Craig Anderson, but he’s always found a way to push through. Best known as a member of the Ottawa Senators, he initially had a hard time proving himself in the NHL, coming in with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2002-03 before stints with the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche. In between, he was once waived three times in two weeks, technically becoming property of the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues but never playing for either team.
An athletic netminder with good size and a never-say-quit attitude, Anderson didn’t get an extended look as a starter until 2009-10, his only full season with the Avalanche. He posted a sizzling 38 wins but faltered in the next campaign, prompting a trade to Ottawa that saw Brian Elliott go the other way.
Anderson ended up soaring with the Sens, though injuries often took a toll. The most bizarre was in 2012, when he missed 12 games because he sliced his finger while making dinner. But the biggest challenge for Anderson came in 2016-17, when his wife Nicholle was diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer. Anderson took a leave of absence, and seven months later, Nicholle was declared cancer-free. During that period, Anderson came back in spurts and even posted shutouts in two of his initial games back. Though he has never won a Vezina Trophy (he finished fourth on two occasions), he won the Masterton Trophy for his perseverance that year.
Perhaps not coincidentally, one of Anderson’s best seasons came when he had his wife most in mind. The Senators made a shocking run to the Eastern Conference final in 2017, and Anderson did his part with a .926 save percentage before the Sens fell to the eventual champions from Pittsburgh. Anderson battled to the end, as the Pens needed double OT to advance in Game 7.
Born: May 21, 1981, Park Ridge, Ill.
NHL Career: 2002-present
Teams: Chi, Fla, Col, Ott
Stats: 261-207-63, 2.76 GAA, .914 SP, 40 SO
DID YOU KNOW?
Anderson has one of the most fascinating career stat lines in NHL history. Since his first full season with the Senators in 2011-12, he has alternated between bad performances and good ones every other year. When he’s good, Anderson puts up save percentages above .920, and the Sens make the playoffs. When he’s bad, he’s closer to .910 or worse. The Sens have only made the playoffs once when that happened.