Ducks Take Avoidable Gamble on Gibson

Goalie controversy has been the name of the game in Anaheim for the better part of the past three seasons. That came to an end Monday afternoon.

Frederik Andersen has been shipped off to Toronto in exchange for two draft picks; the 30th overall pick in 2016, and a second-rounder in 2017. That’s a really good return given how highly coveted first-round picks are in the modern NHL climate.

Andersen was a model of consistency in his Ducks’ tenure, leaving behind an impressive .925 even strength save percentage. That consistency though, is both what drove him out of Anaheim, and what has made him a rich man in Toronto.

General manager Bob Murray had brief discussions with Andersen’s agent, but they were reportedly never close to an agreement. Within an hour of being traded, the 26-year-old Dane was signed to a massive five-year extension at $5 million AAV. There’s simply no way Anaheim could have brought him back and kept the young core together at that price point.

Gibson Has the Keys to Ducks’ Future

John Gibson is now the sole proprietor of the Ducks’ net, the merits of which are debatable at this point in time. The 22-year old faltered badly in the post-season, betraying both his age and experience level.

His arrival around the Christmas break conveniently coincided with a remarkable resurgence in Anaheim’s even strength play, a streak that he rode all the way to an All-Star selection. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his numbers began to wane once the Ducks’ defensive dominance began to taper off down the stretch. His rebound control and puckhandling were mediocre at best, which was all laid bare in a two game thrashing at the hands of the Nashville Predators.

Gibson is by no means a sure value. As much as he’s shown flashes of potential, he’s also shown that he is very much an unfinished product. His ascension to being Anaheim’s unquestioned starting goaltender is as much a byproduct of the salary cap ecosystem of the NHL as it is his own potential.

For better or worse, the Ducks’ will now have to live and die by the ebbs and flows of Gibson’s natural development curve. It’s a gamble that Murray was forced to take, largely due to his own mismanagement of assets. It’s simply the trickle down effect of forking over big dollars and term to guys like Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa, whose better days are clearly behind them. As a result, the Ducks now have a 22-year-old starting goaltender who might be above average someday.

That’s quite the roll of the dice.