Cover Photo by: Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club
Where has the time gone? The start of the NHL season has already passed, and the competition is just starting to heat up amongst teams. That being said, with the season at an early stage, there is even more competition between players bidding for longer ice time and starting positions. Some of the largest competition will likely be between the starting and backup goalies. Many times the beginning of the season is a clean slate and any goalie can get the number one spot. At this point in time many teams are flip-flopping between their probable starter, backup, and bringing up call-ups from the minors. This is either for an early rest for the starter, or to see what the future holds for the team. With all this confusion going on between the pipes, I thought it would be a great time of the year to do a weekly “review” or spotlight for a team to shed some light on their goalie situations in the past, present, and future.
The first on the list is everyone’s favourite, the Mighty Ducks! The show aired in 1996 with the teams goalie being Wildwing Flashblade. (Kidding.) The actual Mighty Ducks of Anaheim became a franchise in the 1993 season. Their first most notable goalie being Guy Hebert, acquired in the NHL expansion draft. Hebert was originally drafted by the St Louis Blues and he saw some success there, stepping in during the 1991 season. Once he was acquired by the Mighty Ducks is where his success really came through. Hebert played for the ducks until the 2000-2001 season, where he was released to waivers. Hebert remains top of most goaltender statistics for the Ducks. He was selected to play for the USA team in 1994 and 1996 where USA took the world cup. He was also selected for the 1998 olympics and the 1997 NHL all-star game.
With such a successful career, why was he put on waivers? Taking a look at their next goalie, it would make sense: Jean-Sébastien Giguère. Originally drafted by the Hartford Whalers, Giguère came to the Ducks from a trade with the Calgary Flames for a second-round pick. Doesn’t seem like much for the all-star goalie, as the Flames would later find out. J.S. Giguère had multiple winning seasons and took them to the playoffs for 4 seasons, which also included a the team changing their name to the Anaheim Ducks and winning the Stanley cup during the 2006-07 season. He would later be traded in 2010 to the Toronto Maple leafs, and then picked up off of waivers by the Colorado Avalanche in 2011. Giguère saw moderate success with the Avalanche during this time and recently retired last season.
It was during the time immediately after the cup win that the Ducks would obtain Jonas Hiller as a free agent in 2007. He had great success in Switzerland and kept this success for his NHL career. He was considered the full-time backup for J.S Giguère until 2009, when Hiller was given the starting job during the playoffs after a stellar regular season performance. He signed a 4 year deal with the ducks and played to some decent success in the past few years and is currently a member of the Calgary Flames.
The Anaheim Ducks decided not to re-sign Jonas Hiller as recently stated for the 2014-15 season. This leaves them in a bit of a pickle. They traded away their backup Viktor Fasth, and now have no starter. In last years playoffs the ducks turned to some younger talent to help them through and it doesn’t seem like that bad of an option. Frederik Andersen and John Gibson are the current net-minding talent for the team and its still unclear as to whom will get the number one spot, but many lean to Frederik Anderson since he has seen more ice time. The both of them were brought in later in the season due to injuries, and both Andersen and Gibson have yet to see a full NHL season as a starter. The team also has acquired Jason LaBarbera as a free agent to a one-year deal but was sent down to their AHL affiliate likely due to the surprising performances of Andersen and Gibson.
One could argue that the future looks bright for the Anaheim Ducks, at least in terms of goaltending. As it stands, both Andersen and Gibson seem like they have potential to be a very good pair of goalies for the Ducks, as long as they can stay away from injuries, especially with Andersen being more injury prone of the two. At the same time however, it may not be their immediately best choice. Even though Andersen won 26 of his 35 games in the NHL so far, and Gibson has won 4 out of 5 games in NHL so far, this is very minimal for them to be vying for starting positions. It will be hard to tell if they have the experience and toughness to last all season, but as long as these two can stay injury free, there’s a good chance they can be one of the youngest and strongest pair of net minders in the league. As for the extended future, its likely we will see these goalies in Ducks uniform for some time. They are both extremely young and talented with a lot of potential and considering Jason Labarbera is their AHL netminder, it’s not likely they will be making any call-ups unless required. Of course there is always the unexpected occurrences with injuries, trades, contracts, and some goalies being streaky or inconsistent with their play; it is always difficult to predict what is going to happen between the pipes.