BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Sabres re-signed goalie Craig Anderson to a one-year deal on Thursday, giving them a veteran presence in net as they enter what they hope will be a promising season.
Anderson, 41, will earn $1.5 million next season, the team announced — a 100% raise on the $750,000 he made in 2021-22.
“I have a lot of respect for Craig,” GM Kevyn Adams said Thursday. “Not just the career he’s had, but the way he handles himself professionally. I think he had a big influence in our locker room in terms of being a player that’s done a lot in this league, but also a player who gets up every day and works to get better and takes care of himself.”
Anderson led the team with 17 wins last season despite being limited to 31 games by a neck injury. His .897 save percentage ranked 45th in the league among qualifying goaltenders, while his 3.12 goals-against average was 38th.
“You look at our young team, and especially our young ‘D’ corps, I do think it’s very important to have someone that there’s some stability in terms of the presence and what he brings,” Adams said.
Anderson is expected to serve as a mentor to Sabres goaltending prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who played nine games last season after making his NHL debut. “I really feel strongly that he’s going to be a good goalie for us,” Adams said of Luukkonen.
But re-signing Anderson won’t preclude the Sabres from making other moves in net, Adams said.
“It doesn’t change anything in terms of conversations we’re having now and looking at different options,” Adams said. “We have to be in on every conversation, we have to be open to every possible scenario, which we are.”
However, Adams added, when evaluating the market for goaltenders available in free agency or a trade, “they come at a high price.”
Adams was proud that a player with as much experience as Anderson wanted to return to Buffalo.
“He said to me, ‘In all my years of playing, I don’t know if I’ve enjoyed myself more than I did last year,” Adams recalled.
The Sabres finished 25 points out of a playoff spot last season, but ended the year on a 14-7-3 run, which would be a 106-point pace over a full season.
“Excited to have him back — it says a lot about Craig and his family, but also how he feels about the coaching staff, the players, the organization,” Adams said. “… He had fun. He sees something special building.”