Sunday, 29 July 2012

25. A Dizzying Situation for the Ducks

It appears Anaheim are going for quantity over quality at this point. Throwing their eggs into seven different baskets! While Jonas Hiller remains the defacto starter he has been up and down with vertigo/dizziness issues (never a good sign) and poor goaltending was a big part of the reason the Ducks fell out of the playoff picture early last season. Hiller’s contract at $4.5mil runs out in two seasons so perhaps the Ducks GM Bob Murray is showing signs of nervousness about Hiller's health by accumulating so many goaltenders recently.

when Jonas is on his game, he's an elite level talent.. vertigo seems to be stealing his career from him
Beyond Jonas it appears Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers will be the back-up considering his cap hit will be 600k at either the NHL or AHL level. Despite his poor NHL numbers thus far in his career, Drouin-Deslauriers’ North American experience should give him first crack at the back-up job come training camp. Two very different Scandinavian tenders will be hot on the Frenchman’s heels however; Frederick Andersen and Viktor Fasth.

Andersen, the 22 year old Danish standout (it’s a rising hockey nation, trust me), spent last year dominating the Elitserien for Frolunda. He slid along at an impressive 1.62gaa in 32gp for the Swedish club. If Andersen makes the jump he’ll be making $1.7mil, but in the A he’ll see a significantly smaller paycheque which is why he’ll likely end up there. At 22 there's no reason for the Ducks to rush Frederick along, especially with 6 other tenders in the system.

Fasth, the 29 year old Swede, took a long road on the path to NHL development. Similarly to D-Deslauriers Fasth will make $1mil regardless of if he plays for Anaheim or the baby-Ducks. Fasth has basically played his way into the spotlight and an NHL contract over the last two years thanks to great work in the SEL with AIK (2.26 and 2.12gaa’s) and getting a call from the Swedish National team for the past two World Championship rosters. He’s been excellent for the yellow and blue as a starter on the international stage with a sub-2.00gaa, but that’s to be expected for a hockey-power with Sweden. At 29 you'd think Fasth has his eye on the big-time and wouldn't take kindly to losing out on the back-up role.

The American prospect John Gibson will likely return to the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers as the Ducks have enough goalies to fill the holes without rushing him to the bigs. It appears Gibson needs the seasoning anyway as his limited action in the World Juniors was less than spectacular for the American side. Gibson has been a highly touted prospect though, so it's not unreasonable to expect a bounce-back campaign.

As Anaheim’s approach appears to be acquiring a ton of goalies of different nationalities, Igor Bobkov fits the mold. Six goalies, six nationalities. At 21 Bobkov will be a professional this season, and he already has the leg up on the competition with a handful of AHL starts at Syracuse. His numbers in the OHL weren’t great for the Kingston Frontenacs, but in limited action in 4 starts with the Crunch he showed some upside with a 2.68gaa against men. With four professionals already ahead of him on the depth-chart it's going to be hard for Bobkov to find a prominent role. I see ECHL time on the horizon (or perhaps KHL). 

Marco Cousineau (who ruins the perfect seven for seven on different nationalities) has struggled to find starts at a reasonable professional level. After starting for the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL (perhaps where Bobkov ends up this season) two years ago he ended up with the Allen Americans of the CHL last year. No player with NHL aspirations wants to sink this low, but for goaltenders finding starts is the most important thing. It appears that Marco did enough last year to earn a contract from the Ducks, but becoming more than an afterthought amongst the other 6 contenders will be a challenge for the 22 year old.

Viktor Fasth is perhaps the most intriguring part of the goaltending puzzle this upcoming season in Anaheim. At 29 he could be ready, willing, and able to wrestle the starting job from an unsteady Hiller. The combination of those two and the added support from D-Deslauriers will give the Ducks enough to have similar results as last season, but that really wasn’t quite good enough. 5 blockers to the mouth of 10 because of Hiller's health problems.

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