By Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press
Andrew Hammond has shown he has what it takes to play at a high level in the NHL in a short-term situation. Now he is ready to show he can do it over the length of his new contract and beyond.
The Ottawa Senators signed the goaltender to a US$4.05-million, three-year contract on Wednesday. Hammond, whose spectacular late-season run got the Senators into the playoffs, will make $1.2 million next season, $1.35 million in 2016-17 and $1.5 million in 2017-18.
The “Hamburglar” will count $1.35 million against Ottawa’s salary cap over the length of the deal.
“I’m aware that the expectations are obviously going to change now, but I’ve proven myself over the last few months here that I can play at this level,” Hammond said on a conference call Wednesday. “It’s something that I’m more than willing to and excited to earn every day
“It’s something I feel like I have to prove myself every day. Whether that’s to meet the expectations of others, I don’t know. I don’t think I can worry about meeting the expectations of others too much. I know I put extremely high expectations on my own shoulders, and it’s up to me to match those, and I feel like if I’m able to be happy with my play, myself, everything else will take care of itself.”
Hammond made his first NHL start at the age of 27 in February, then went 20-1-2 with a 1.79 goals-against average and .941 save percentage to lead the Senators on an improbable run to the playoffs.
“The great thing about sports and hockey in particular is anything can happen,” Hammond said. “I was given a chance to kind of hit the refresh button a little bit when I got called up and I was able to play some of my best hockey down the stretch there.”
The Surrey, B.C., native went 0-2 with a 3.44 GAA and .914 save percentage in the first round against the Montreal Canadiens before being replaced by Craig Anderson.
“He showed the ability that he could face pressure and he could win big games. For that, we thought that we should reward him with an NHL contract,” Senators assistant ganeral manager Pierre Dorion said. “Whether it was for one, two or three years, we still feel have this goalie under contract for the next three years and that was a good thing to do as an organization.”
Hammond’s 23 regular-season starts were a big enough sample size to earn him a contract.
“The three-year deal was pretty important to me just to give me a little bit more security and kind of just start moving forward to building a career out of it more than anything,” Hammond said.
With Hammond signed, Dorion said the Senators will try to trade either Anderson or Robin Lehner before the start of next season.
Dorion said Lehner is working out after being concussed in February and should be ready for camp
Anderson has three years left on his contract at a cap hit of US$4.2 million, while Lehner has two left at a cap hit of $2.25 million.
Still on general manager Bryan Murray’s off-season to-do list is getting new deals for several restricted free-agent forwards: Calder Trophy finalist Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Alex Chiasson.
Follow @SWhyno on Twitter