From the moment the Anaheim Ducks joined the league in 1993, they’ve been blessed with consistency at the goaltending position. One of the hardest positions to account for, the Ducks have seemed to always have their answer with a bonafide workhorse between the pipes. From the early expansion years with Guy Hebert, through the Stanley Cup runs with Jean-Sébastien Giguère, and continuing through this current rebuild with John Gibson, Anaheim has been able to depend on their goaltenders to shoulder a heavy workload over the span of several seasons. With plenty of great goaltenders to choose from, here are the top three in the Ducks’ franchise history.
Honorable Mention: Guy Hebert
Just missing the cut is the original Mighty Duck. Anaheim selected Herbert with their first pick in the 1993 Expansion Draft, and he was the workhorse goaltender in the franchise’s early years. From the inaugural season in 1993 to his last full season with the club in 2000, he appeared in 400 out of a possible 540 games (74 percent of games over seven years).
Hebert’s best season with the club came in 1996-97, when he had a .919 save percentage (SV%) and 31.2 goals saved above average in 67 games. His reliability during the regular season helped lead Anaheim to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. He pitched a shutout in Game 7 of the first-round series against the Phoenix Coyotes, helping the Ducks win their first playoff series.
3. John Gibson
The first name on the countdown is the Ducks’ current goaltender. John Gibson first appeared for the Ducks during the 2013-14 season as a 20-year-old. After only appearing in three games during the regular season, he had the tall order of relieving Frederik Andersen and Jonas Hiller in the second round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings. Facing a 2-1 series deficit, Gibson and the Ducks pushed the series to seven games before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
After two excellent years as the 1B option to Andersen, Gibson was given the outright starting position in the 2016-17 season. The Ducks began to decline around this time as a team, but it had little to do with goaltending. Gibson has shouldered an incredible workload, including 60 starts during the 2017-18 season. That year, he had a .926 SV% and carried the Ducks into their last playoff appearance before the bottom finally fell out.
The workload and lackluster roster have taken their toll on his reputation as one of the league’s best netminders, but he is still often the reason the Ducks remain competitive in games they have little business keeping up in. At 29 years old, Gibson is nearing the top of nearly every franchise record. With four more years on his contract and with Lukas Dostal a year or two away from really competing for starting time, it’s likely he will end up being the most decorated goaltender in Ducks’ history.
2. Jonas Hiller
Hiller took over the starting job from Giguere (more on him later, obviously) just before the 2009 postseason. If there was any doubt in moving away from the franchise icon, Hiller put it to bed quickly. His performance in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the stuff of legend. In 13 games, he posted a .943 SV% as the Ducks fell in the second round to the Detroit Red Wings. Hiller would go on to be the starter for the next five seasons, appearing in as many as 73 games in 2011-12 and never having a single season SV% dip below .910.
As good as Hiller was, his career is marred by what could have been. He began to suffer symptoms of vertigo after the 2011 All-Star Game. After being a front-runner for the Vezina Trophy in the first half of the season, his season was effectively over. Even though vertigo affected him for the rest of his time in the NHL, he put up quality numbers as a starter, though they never reached his pre-injury highs.
Hiller was also most notable for his different mask designs. Whether it was the simple matte black helmet and gold cage, or the bright orange lid used for the 2014 Stadium Series, his headwear was always noticeable. Even if it’s just photos of his teammates with mustaches.
1. Jean-Sébastien Giguère
There are no surprises at the top of this list. Giguère is not only the greatest goaltender in Ducks’ history, but he is also one of the most important individuals in franchise history. He became the starter in 2001-02, the first season Hebert was no longer in the Ducks’ organization. The following year, Anaheim made the postseason for only the third time in its history.
Giguère’s run in the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs is still considered a high-water mark for the position. In the first round, the seventh-seeded Ducks swept the defending-Cup champion Red Wings and held them to six goals for the entire series. After defeating the Dallas Stars in six games, he stonewalled the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference Final, allowing only one goal in a four-game sweep. The Ducks would go on to lose in the Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils, but his .945 SV% and 1.62 goals allowed per game in 21 playoff games earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy. To this day, he is the most recent recipient of the trophy who didn’t also win the Stanley Cup.
While Giguère’s herculean efforts in 2003 left the Ducks without the ultimate prize, they seized their chance a few years later. With broadcast cameras in the Ducks’ defensive zone, Giguère’s arms were the first in the air as the final seconds of Game 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final ticked away, securing the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship. The 2007 Ducks were a juggernaut that didn’t lean as heavily on him as the 2003 iteration of the club. But to his credit, he had a .922 SV% in 18 playoff games that year.
Giguère’s legacy in Anaheim is well-known as the single-most important backstop in team history. As of writing this, he owns the franchise record for wins, games played, and shutouts, as well as leading the team to both of its Cup Final appearances. It feels like it’s only a matter of time before the team properly honors him by retiring his number 35. The Ducks have only retired three numbers, but Giguère is easily one of the most important players in franchise history and is worthy of being properly honored.
Statistics courtesy Hockey-Reference.
I was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California, and currently live in Visalia, California. Graduated from CSUF in 2016 with a B.A. in Cinema and Television Arts. I’ve been a sports fan for my entire life, rooting for the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Heat. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, trying to pour a perfect cup of coffee, and testing out a local craft beer.