Avs trade Craig Anderson to Senators

Updated: February 18, 2011, 7:47 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche swapped one struggling goaltender for another, acquiring Brian Elliott from the Ottawa Senators for Craig Anderson.

Elliott was solid a season ago for the Senators, guiding the team into the postseason.

Likewise for Anderson in Colorado.

Elliott has stumbled this season, his squad tumbling to the bottom of the standings.

Ditto for Anderson and the Avalanche.

But now both have a shot at a new start in net.

"Change can bring a little excitement and a different attitude to a season that hasn't gone the way we thought it would here," the 25-year-old Elliott said Friday in a teleconference.

Anderson was the backbone of the Avalanche in 2009-10 when the team advanced to the playoffs, setting franchise records in starts (71), minutes (4,235), shots faced (2,233) and saves (2,047).

But he hasn't been the same in goal this time around, going 13-15-3 with a 3.28 goals against average. He had been losing starts to backup Peter Budaj with the Avs mired in a nine-game skid.

"It's the nature of the business," John-Michael Liles said of the shake-up. "When you're not winning, a lot of things can change and a lot of things probably will change. It's never easy to see a guy leave that you've grown with over the past couple of years and has been a big part of your team."

So in steps Elliott, who was 13-19-8 for the Senators this season, allowing 3.19 goals a game. He will contend with Budaj for the starting job.

"The job's open," coach Joe Sacco said. "We're going to give Brian an opportunity to see where he's at and how he fits in and give him a chance to play. We're in a situation where we're looking for some results right now."

Elliott won't join the Avalanche for their game in San Jose on Saturday night as he sorts through immigration issues. He's hoping to meet up with the team sometime next week.

Instead, John Grahame was called up from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League and will join the team in San Jose.

With only one goalie available for practice Friday, the Avalanche summoned to the ice 42-year-old Eric Schaupeter, a local golf pro who also dabbles as a goaltender in a men's league one night a week.

He's filled in at practice countless times before, such as when Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy needed a breather late in the season before a long Stanley Cup playoff run.

Schaupeter was similar to a sparring partner for a top-ranked boxer -- there to take some abuse and boost the players' confidence as he allowed quite a few shots to trickle into the net.

These days, the Avs can use all the confidence they can get.

Once in the thick of the playoff chase, the team has plunged in the Western Conference and sits 11 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

Colorado showed signs of emerging from its doldrums Wednesday, earning a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to Pittsburgh.

"It's a matter of playing how we did against Pittsburgh in terms of the effort level and the desperation," Liles said. "I think that when you get away from playing desperate, it can have drastic effects."

Like players such as Anderson being dealt away.

"It's tough to see a friend go, but he's a professional and he knows this is how this business works," Budaj said.

Anderson, who turns 30 in May, wrestled with nagging injuries this season, missing 10 games after hurting his knee during warmups on Oct. 26 in Vancouver and three more with a groin ailment.

Still, Sacco was at a loss to explain the sudden decline of Anderson.

"For whatever reasons, things weren't working out quite the same this year," Sacco said. "I think for both parties it was the right move. Craig gets a fresh start there and Brian gets a fresh start here."

It's been a difficult season for Elliott and the Senators, who are last in the Eastern Conference.

But this is a chance for Elliott to flip the page.

"You've got to look at every day as a new day, a new opportunity to get better," Elliott said. "You have to have confidence in yourself and know you're there for a reason.".


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press