Why Are Some So Quick to Crown Fasth as Ducks #1?

Viktor FasthViktor Fasth has made an impressive start to his NHL career.

The Swede has gone 11-1-1 in 14 appearances (he relieved Jonas Hiller in one game), posting two shutouts and a .927 save percentage.

He also won his first 8 starts, triggering the Ducks brass into offering the 30-year old a two year extension worth $5.8m.

Life as an NHL goaltender has started off pretty well for Fasth. And with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf signing rather large contract extensions to stay in Orange County, Fasth suddenly seems to be being anointed as the teams new starting goaltender.

This strikes me as rather rash….

Again, Fasth has made a very impressive start to his NHL career. But isn’t this all a bit premature? Are the Ducks REALLY going to ship a proven NHL netminder in Jonas Hiller based on a good start?

The Ducks cap situation going forward is certainly one aspect which has to be taken in to consideration. With the cap ceiling dropping next year and $22 million attached to three players (Perry, getzlaf and Bobby Ryan), Anaheim GM Bob Murray has to ensure he has enough left over to keep the team competitive and hold on to, or replace key players. Kyle Palmieri is an RFA for example, whilst Teemu Selanne will either need to be re-signed or replaced as will Saku Koivu.

Hiller’s reasonable $4.5m cap hit, combined with the Swiss stoppers proven ability, would make him very moveable (even with Ryan Miller likely also available) and could garner some useful return to keep the Ducks strong.

But again, are the Ducks going to go all in on a 30 year old with less than a full seasons worth of games under his belt?

It surprised me to see Anaheim move so quickly to extend Fasth’s contract, again because he had such a small sample size on which to judge his real ability to perform at NHL level. But equally I could see a logic to it.

The Ducks goaltending future is almost certainly nailed to John Gibson, the hero of Team USA’s World Junior victory. So Fasth’s two year extension would seemingly bridge the gap between now and Gibson’s ascension to the big league.

Surely the sensible thing to do in the mean time is to run with two strong netminders? Even if it pans out that they are 1A and 1B; the Ducks have made a great start to this shortened 2012/13 season and good goaltending has been a part of that.

The other risk with moving Hiller and backing Fasth as the ‘horse’ in Anaheim is that bright starts do not always pan out in to good careers. Steve Mason is the perfect example of this, and even Carey Price took a step back after making a bright start to his NHL career, before he finally broke out to become one of the games elite puck stoppers.

One big difference with Price is that Montreal backed him as their guy for the long term – for the next decade at least. Fasth is unlikely to be the Ducks starter for more than a couple of seasons even if he does get to take the reigns from Hiller.

Of course, Fasth might be another goaltender in the mould of Tim Thomas – making a late claim to an NHL spot and running with it. But the odds suggest that is unlikely if we are frank.

The whole situation just seems to have been blown wildly out of proportion, and feels more than a bit premature to raise Fasth up to the level of NHL #1 after just over a dozen games.

Perhaps the excitement of the Getzlaf and Perry deals got some folk a bit over excited after missing out on hockey for those extra few months?

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on March 20, 2013, in Hockey, NHL and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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