With summer in full swing, there’s not a whole lot of news to report from Anaheim. That makes it’s a good time to hit the reset button and dig into the organizational depth chart to give you a position-by-position breakdown on where things stand heading into the 2019-20 season.
We’ll start things off from the back end with the goaltenders, then the defensemen, and finishing with the forward group. Here’s a quick look at how the Anaheim Ducks are looking in net.
The Starter: John Gibson
A bonafide number one goaltender is nothing to take for granted and the Ducks have one in John Gibson, maybe one of the most underappreciated netminders in the league.
Despite having the numbers to warrant consideration over the past couple seasons, Gibson has not been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, nor has he garnered more than a single third-place vote. This is remarkable considering what he has done with a heavy workload and not much help in front of him, thanks to injuries and players being cast away.
Not only is Gibson a legitimate star but he’s also young, set to turn 26 this summer, and on a team-friendly contract at $6.4 million AAV through the 2026-27 season. Assuming he’s able to stay healthy, the Ducks know they’re set in goal with Gibson which is a major luxury during a rebuild.
The Backup: Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller returns to the Ducks for the 2019-20 season on a one-year deal, giving the Ducks a backup with incredible pedigree as the winningest American-born goaltender in history. Miller played fairly well in his 20 games of action last season, his second as Gibson’s backup, and is a good mentor to his American counterpart.
Miller will be counted on again for 20 to 25 starts when Gibson needs a rest and may have enough in the tank for more if Gibson struggles or gets injured.
Signed for Depth: Anthony Stolarz
The heading says it all. Anthony Stolarz was signed by the Ducks on July 2 to a two-year, two-way contract to provide the team with a third netminder who has NHL experience. Stolarz will fill in as a backup when the injury bug hits.
In the Minors: Kevin Boyle and Angus Redmond
Boyle was actually called into action for five games with the Ducks last season and put up a 2.17 GAA and .928 SV% – not too shabby. He will likely split starts in the AHL with Swedish prospect Olle Eriksson Ek (listed below) or Stolarz when he is down on the farm. Redmond, 23, is an undrafted journeyman who will provide depth in the East Coast League.
The Prospects: Lukas Dostal and Olle Eriksson Ek
While Gibson is locked in as the Ducks’ starter, for the time being, the team has two stellar prospects in the pipeline in Lukas Dostal and Olle Eriksson Ek.
Dostal was excellent for the Czech Republic at last year’s World Junior Championships, posting a sterling 1.25 GAA and .957 SV% in four games. He shuffled between three different leagues last season in addition to his time with the Czech National Junior team and could benefit from spending an entire season in the top Czech league. He also will likely be counted on once again to help carry the U-20 Czech squad at next year’s WJC tournament.
Eriksson Ek played only 23 games last season between the Swedish junior program and BIK Karlskoga, his club in the second-tier Swedish league. He is coming over for his first taste of action in North America and will likely spend the year in San Diego, getting his feet wet in the AHL. Expect somewhere in the ballpark of 25-30 starts for Eriksson Ek in San Diego.
The hope is that Dostal or Eriksson Ek can emerge as a worthy backup to Gibson within the next couple of years. The best case scenario is that they both continue on their trajectory and give the Ducks a good trade chip for a team in need of a young goaltender. As the rebuild gets underway in earnest, the Ducks appear to be in good shape in the crease.
A Hartford kid, John grew up on The Whale and Brass Bonanza. He first laced up the skates at age 3 and has rarely taken them off since. Now based in Orange County, John is taking his talents to the pond and providing coverage for the Anaheim Ducks as they begin their rebuild.