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Anaheim Ducks at a goaltending crossroad

Aug 10, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT

Goaltender Jonas Hiller #1 of the Anaheim Ducks stands in the crease prior to the start of the game against the Calgary Flames at Honda Center on March 2, 2012 in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Flames 3-2.
(March 1, 2012 - Source: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Goaltender Viktor Fasth was one of the 2013 campaign’s most pleasant surprises. He made his NHL debut at the age of 30 and got things off with a bang by winning his first eight NHL starts.

Although he did have some rough outings along the way, he didn’t slow down significantly and ended up with a 15-6-2 record, 2.18 GAA, and .921 save percentage. Meanwhile, Jonas Hiller bounced back from a poor start, but after playing in 73 contests in 2011-12, he’s not the clear starter going into 2013-14.

Anaheim might even trade Hiller and put their faith entirely in Fasth, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them start the season with both goaltenders. After all, Fasth only has 25 games worth of NHL experience and as good as they have been, that’s an awfully small sample size to put your trust in.

In the short-term, it might make more sense for them to let Hiller and Fasth battle for playing time, but by the end of the 2013-14 campaign, they will be forced to make a decision.

Hiller’s entering the final season of his contract and if it’s a good one, he might seek a raise from his current $4.5 million annual salary. If they finish the season feeling confident with Fasth, then they might let Hiller walk if they haven’t already dealt him. If Fasth has a rough campaign though, the Ducks will be in a bit of a challenging situation.

They already have close to $42 million committed to 13 players in 2014-15, according to Cap Geek, so giving Hiller a raise might be painful. It will help though that Fasth’s contract with its $2.9 million cap hit expires in the summer of 2015, so if they opt to re-sign Hiller, then there will only be one season of overlap before their netminding costs get more reasonable.

In either scenario, you can expect Fasth or Hiller to be gone within the next two seasons. If one of them falters, then it wouldn’t make much sense to keep that one when Anaheim has some promising young goaltenders in the pipeline in John Gibson and Igor Bobkov. Even if both of them excel, it won’t be cost effective to retain both of their services for long given their contract situations.

So this is a key season for both Fasth and Hiller. Not only are they battling for the starting job, but they’re also fighting for their next gig, be it with the Ducks or another team.

  1. ron05342 - Aug 10, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Good goaltending is what makes the difference between going deep into the playoffs and being ousted in the first round.

    The Ducks just don’t have the level of goaltending needed to go deep into the playoffs. You could see it all last season. While they were busy trying to outscore opponents (and mostly succeeding), you just knew they were going to have trouble in the playoffs.

    Still, they took Detroit to seven games.

    • hubeydubeydoo11 - Aug 10, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      You mean Detroit took them to seven games! agree with everything else though. Hiller needs to better if he wants to stay or get that raise

    • areaman714 - Aug 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Ugh. If Corey Perry scores one or two goals, the Ducks beat them in five . . .

      • chanceoffleury1 - Aug 10, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        And if the TSA agents pat down Al Qaeda then 9/11 never happens. What’s your point? Living in a world of shoulda/coulda/woulda never won anybody a stanley cup. Refusing to address problems gets you the same place every year: golfing. As a Pens fan I would know. Beauchemin and Souray aren’t exactly the fountain of youth, Koivu and Selanne are either done or hanging by a thread, Ryan is gone. They need to pounce at the opportunity to make changes while Getzlaf and Perry are still considered in the golden years of their careers.

      • hubeydubeydoo11 - Aug 10, 2013 at 11:25 PM

        Ya I’m sorry who was it that moved onto the second round again? OHHH the wings yes! Alright ya who would have thought the wings would have made the post season let alone knock out the 2nd seed! Sorry the ducks lost but you cant go back on it! it happened

      • areaman714 - Aug 11, 2013 at 4:33 AM

        Did you idiots read the post I was replying to? It was a response to a postulation that the Ducks goaltending was the reason the Ducks didn’t go far in the playoffs. It was for mediocre defense and Corey Perry not showing up.
        No shoulda/couldas at all. If Corey Perry plays half what he is capable of, you are not talking about the goalies. I was over it the next day. It was beach weather. It is beach weather every day here. The Ducks have 5 of the top 25 prospects in the NHL. They weren’t going to be able to sign the over-rated Ryan and they got very good talent and a first rounder in return. They have stud goalies in their system that the Pens would cream for. They may even trade Hiller for more blueline talent if Fasth looks good early this year. They have the forwards to roll three, maybe four really good lines. And Wings fan. Worry about your city more than your team.

  2. mrpinkca - Aug 10, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    I’m not sold on Fasth. All the advanced stats say that Anaheim was a house of cards, and I don’t think Fasth is much better than league average.

    I’m also not really sold on their defense.

  3. billyhauntswizards - Aug 10, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    the Ducks need better defense. Period. John Gibson’s going to be a special player for them though.

  4. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 10, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    One thing with Fasth is that he was less effective after the NHL took a closer look at his pads (when he started 8-0).

    As far as trading Hiller, if both are playing well, they may trade Hiller to the Pens assuming Fleury underwhealms again and they have an available amnesty buyout.

    • areaman714 - Aug 11, 2013 at 4:38 AM

      Pens giving up a top 2 blueliner? Their defense was meh like the Ducks. The Pens will give a good long look a Vokoun because they have zero faith in Fleury.

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