Player Name/position: Viktor Fasth, G
Overall Grade: B+
Contract Status: Fasth was bargain at $1 million this season, and Bob Murray signed him to a 2 year, $5,800,000 contract extension in February. Many thought that his new contract - largely based upon his brilliant performance in January - was hasty and overpriced, but Fasth will be a reliable backup for Hiller for the next few seasons. Most importantly, Fasth's presence prevents Frederik Andersen or John Gibson from becoming the next Steve Mason. It's a win-win.
Regular Season Stats: Tingsyrds AIF (Hockey Allsvenskan): 12 GP, 1.68 GAA, .942 SV%; Norfolk Admirals: 3 GP, 1.96 GAA, .914 SV%; Anaheim Ducks: 25 GP, 2.18 GAA, .921 SV%
Playoff Stats: None. Jonas Hiller started (and finished) all 7 playoff games. (I believe this was the right call, as well. Dance with the one who brought you).
Summary: Fasth's rise to fame - plucked from obscurity during 2012 offseason, after toiling away in various Swedish leagues for years - was swift, and the Ducks' investment paid off immediately. Fasth began the season 8-0-0, his win record only snapped by a late February loss to the LA Kings. Fasth eventually earned 4 shutouts in 25 games, and would have most likely been in the Calder Trophy conversation if not for his age. Though he is small in stature for a goalie - and has a disturbingly large five-hole -he has a work ethic and an ability to hunt the puck that makes him valuable.
Highlight of the Season: A glove save on David Legwand in the Ducks' shootout win vs Nashville on January 26th. Fasth was the first star of the game, and it was also his first NHL win.
Expectations for Next Year:The controversy surrounding Fasth and his contract extension continue to baffle me. I understand those who might have reservations about the amount of the contract, and the enduring questions surrounding Jonas Hiller's future with the franchise. However, before Fasth was originally signed during the 2012 offseason, the Ducks were an organization in desperate need of a viable backup goalie.
Furthermore, I don't believe that Fasth is being groomed to be our next starter. Despite his hot start this season, Hiller got the nods where it counted (i.e., the playoffs). I expect that the trend will continue next year - with Hiller as the starter, and Fasth as the reliable backup.