Going into this NHL season, fans who wanted to accuse the Buffalo Sabres of “tanking,” or intentionally icing a weak roster to lose as many games as possible, could have simply pointed to the team’s goaltending situation and made a decent case. On paper, it looked rough. The Sabres were set to run a tandem featuring 40-year-old Craig Anderson and NHL-AHL tweener Dustin Tokarski, a pairing that inspired very little confidence. While the team has battled injuries in the crease, it’s safe to say that the tandem of Tokarski and Anderson has performed better than expected, and it seems that the Sabres agree. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Sabres have told Anderson that they “would like to have him back” next season, and are willing to wait for him to decide if he wants to continue playing before seeking a replacement to fill his spot.
While a fan looking just at Anderson’s box score numbers, and specifically his .902 save percentage, might scoff at this development, it is more reasonable than it may seem. Anderson is a beloved veteran whose leadership is likely to be increasingly important in the Sabres’ young locker room. Additionally, his overall performance is more impressive when put into the context of the Sabres’ season in general. Buffalo is not a team that has an abundance of talent on their blueline, and Anderson more frequently faces nights without much help than he does nights where his team makes the game easy for him. More than anything, the stability and poise he has brought to the Sabres’ net has helped them come out on top in some big moments this season, highlighted by the team’s win in an outdoor game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. For a Sabres organization that hasn’t had many highlights to speak of over the past decade, wanting to re-sign the goalie who led the charge during this season’s best moments is not an unreasonable desire.