Senators Ink Andrew Hammond to a 2-year ELC

On March 18th, Jean Gabriel Pageau tipped off the masses that the Senators had (likely) made a collegiate free agent signing by retweeting the above and today, the organization formally announced the signing of Andrew Hammond to a two-year entry level contract.

Via the press release:

The Ottawa Senators announced today the club has signed free agent goaltender Andrew Hammond to a two-year entry-level contract. Hammond recently completed his senior collegiate season when his Bowling Green Falcons fell to Notre Dame in the second round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs. Hammond has signed an amateur tryout agreement and will report to the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Binghamton Senators.

Hammond, 25, posted a 10-15-3 record with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 29 games with the Falcons this past season. He was the recipient of the team’s Jim Sears Award (most valuable player) and Jim Ruehl Award (best defensive player) after both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

A native of Surrey, B.C., Hammond earned a record of 30-68-13 in 111 games over four seasons at Bowling Green and attended the Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect camp in 2012.

Hammond is listed at 6’3” and 190 lbs on his Bowling Green player profile page and at 25 years of age, one has to wonder how much of a prospect he actually is. Given some of Ottawa’s previous forays into the collegiate market, coupled with the fact that every NHL team is seemingly scouring the collegiate market for inexpensive players that can add some organizational depth, my expectations for Hammond actually developing into a productive player are low.

With that being said, his signing simply reminds us of the organization’s impending decision regarding their goaltending situation.

Robin Lehner has nothing left to prove at the minor league level and he’s ready to be a NHL regular. The same can be said about backup Ben Bishop.

Whether it’s before the trade deadline or this summer, the Senators will need to make a choice on which goalie – Craig Anderson or Ben Bishop — they want to move.

Does management maximize the value on a proven asset like Craig Anderson? Do they play it safe or hope some team overpays for potential and blows them away with an offer for Ben Bishop?

There’s no question Lehner needs to play to develop but the Senators need to weigh this development with the opportunity to win – both now and in the future. Will he develop better by playing behind a workhorse like Craig Anderson who seemingly performs better the more he plays? Will he benefit more by watching Anderson perform? Or does management turn the keys to the car over to their lauded prospect as early as next season?

Given Bryan Murray’s recent trading history, picking up young players like Turris, and Bishop I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see him have the stones to move Anderson.

Other News and Notes:

– ESPN's Pierre Lebrun penned a blog last night featuring two Senators-related blurbs: 1) the Bruins still have Daniel Alfredsson on their list of trade targets; and 2) the Ottawa Senators had given thought to dealing Sergei Gonchar before the April 3 trade deadline because he’s a UFA after the season and they thought they might be out of the running with all the injuries. Instead, the Sens have stuck around in the playoff race and Gonchar has played well, enough that Ottawa, I’m told, is thinking it might keep him around.

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch confirmed the Senators are one of the 20-25 teams that have expressed interest in 6'8" unrestricted FA Andrej Sustr. 

– Marc Methot has reportedly received treatment on his 'lower body injury' and could be available to play tomorrow night against the Boston Bruins. In other lineup related news, Lehner will get the start.

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