It’s a great day to be Craig Anderson, as the Ottawa Senators announced that they have signed the 29-year old goaltender to a new 4-year $12.75 deal. Anderson has been solid since being traded to Ottawa just days before the trade deadline, but it’s still a rather puzzling move by Senators GM Bryan Murray.

The Senators were in desperate need of reliable goaltending, that much we know. Robin Lehner was believed to be the goalie of the future until the announcement of the Anderson deal this morning. With Anderson earning an annual cap hit of $3.18 million for the next four seasons, Lehner is likely to be brought along much slower than previously expected. Anderson posted Vezina caliber numbers throughout most of the 2009-10 season, but struggled to find that form by posting a lousy .897 Sv% and an inflated 3.28 GAA in 33 games with the Avalanche this season. His .938 Sv% and 2.11 GAA since arriving in Ottawa are probably not the most reliable indicators of Anderson’s true potential, but they’re more akin to his career marks of .912 and 2.81.

Anderson’s new deal will plant him between Pekka Rinne ($3.4 million) and Carey Price ($2.75 million) in terms of annual cap hit value. Anderson is older than both of those goaltenders, and hardly possesses the pedigree of either. After the failed perpetually injured Pascal Leclaire as franchise goaltender experiment, the pressure was on Murray to bring a reliable and experienced netminder into the fold in Ottawa. Anderson has shown some semblance of a legitimate number one goalie, but we’ll stop short of calling him an elite talent.

Much like the Antti Niemi signing in San Jose, the term length on the Anderson deal doesn’t make as much sense as the dollars. Lehner is likely still the franchises’ best bet for a long-term solution in goal, and having Anderson around for a couple of seasons as some insurance for a rebuilding club is ideal. Still, it’s hard to fathom a hot prospect like Lehner riding the pine in three years time when the Senators could be in a position to contend again. Barring a future trade, Craig Anderson should make for an expensive backup down the road.

With salary cap date from CapGeek.com