By Tasha Florentz-Clift
Frederik Andersen started off the season as the Duck’s clear cut number one goalie with Anton Khudobin(acquired in a trade with Carolina Hurricanes) in the backup roll. John Gibson meanwhile was assigned to the San Diego Gulls.
Andersen was the lone shining star for the Ducks in the dismal month of October(Anaheim went 1-7-2). His goaltending was superb even when the team itself was struggling. He had a .938 SV% and a GAA of 1.86 in October. He was a steady force behind a team that was struggling to find their identity. He had a solid beginning in November, but his stats started declining towards the end of the month. His current stats are 4-7-4 with a 2.45 GAA and a .914 SV%. Freddie has missed the past 7 games due to a terrible flu virus. Freddie himself stated that he was not able to eat anything solid until after Thanksgiving, leaving him very weak.
When Freddie fell ill, Anaheim recalled Gibson from their AHL affiliate the San Diego Gulls. At the time of his recall, he was 7-4-1 with a .917 GAA and a 2.63 SV% for the Gulls. Gibson’s first game up with the Ducks was on November 24th against the Calgary Flames. This was a huge game for Anaheim to win to gain some ground in the Pacific Division. Anton Khudobin started in net, but got pulled after allowing 2 goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. Gibson came in relief, Anaheim won the game and he has not relinquished the starting position since. He has a 4-2-1 record with a 1.47 GAA and a .944 SV%. He was named First NHL star of the week and has been a dominate force in net.
One of the controversies everyone is talking about is either trading Freddie Andersen(who is an RFA at the end of this season) or Khudobin. Gibson is “suppose” to be the future of this team, so just let one of those other goalies go? How about we just to try keep all three. Why is having depth at the goalie position a bad thing? A lot of people forgot what happened last season when both Andersen and Gibson were out with injuries at the same time. Anaheim only had back up goaltender Jason LaBarbera and no one else in the system that they could reliably play in the NHL. The Ducks had to go out and get Ilya Bryzgalov out of retirement to fill that role. How well did that work out? Bob Murray does not want that to happen again. Which is why he traded defenseman James Wisniewski at the draft to get Khudobin.
The Ducks also got goaltender Matt Hackett through free agency in the off season. Unless the offer is too good to pass up, I think the Ducks will be keeping all three goalies in some fashion. Also take into consideration what happened with former Duck forward, Matt Beleskey. Murray could have traded Beleskey away, but decided to keep him for the playoffs. They knew he was a free agent at the end of the season, they knew that he was probably not going to be a Duck much longer, but they kept him anyways.
The Ducks could lose Andersen this off season to Restricted Free Agency or they could choose to sign him. The Dallas Stars(currently sitting atop the NHL in standing points with 44) have been running a very successful goalie tandem all season. Antti Niemi has started 16 games while Kari Lehtonen has started 12. The good ole days of goalies starting 70+ games a season are going by the wayside. NHL teams that want to compete for the Stanley Cup need two top notch goaltenders. Anaheim has that right now! Coaches love riding the hot goalie and right now that is Gibson. Freddie will get his chance to seize back the net and you can bet he will be ready for it.
Additional Contract Issues
Rumors are also swirling around that talks between Freddie’s agent and the Ducks have stalled. Truthfully they have. But not for the reasons you may think. Both Andersen and Hampus Lindholm are represented by 4Sports & Entertainment, which is involved in a lawsuit between Claude Lemieux and Rich Winter, bringing contract negotiations to a halt. Per an article by Elliotte Friedman, “Ritch Winter is suing former partner Claude Lemieux. I’m not going to wade into the right/wrong of this complaint, because I’ve got no clue. Ducks GM Bob Murray is keeping a low profile right now, so he did not comment, but word is the split affected Anaheim’s negotiations with two clients from that firm — Frederik Andersen and Hampus Lindholm. Not an easy situation for two younger players.”
It’s a very complex legal situation, but the problem affects the Ducks in terms of Andersen’s and Lindholm’s contracts. Winter is a certified NHLPA agent and Lemieux is not. They had an agreement to offer agent services for 4Sports & Entertainment, but Lemieux allegedly not being a certified agent is legally problematic. Winter has sued Lemieux leaving Andersen and Lindholm with a decision to either continue with Winter or Lemieux, who has applied to be an agent. They may also have to go with a complete new agent altogether. Regardless what the two players decide, the lawsuit puts a damper on both contract discussions with Bob Murray.
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