One of the biggest stories from Team USA capturing bronze at the recently-completed World Championships — America’s first medal since 2004 — was the play of 19-year-old netminder John Gibson.
Gibson, Anaheim’s second-round pick (39th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, went into the tournament behind Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop, but wrestled away the starting gig and ended up being one of the top goalies in the tournament.
“The only game he lost over there was against Switzerland, and they were territorially superior most of the game,” assistant executive director of USA Hockey Jim Johannson told the OC Register. “And it was 1-0 in the third, thanks to John. It’s hard to steal a game when you don’t score a goal.”
Piero Greco, Gibson’s former goalie coach with OHL Kitchener, had even more praise.
“He is ready for the NHL right now,” Greco said.
All of this presents an interesting situation for the Ducks.
Despite Greco’s assertion, Gibson probably won’t be in the NHL next season — it’s likely he’ll be with AHL Norfolk — but it’s clear he isn’t far off from competing for a spot with in Anaheim.
What does that mean for the current goalies, Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth?
Hiller’s heading into the final season of his four-year, $18 million deal and will be a UFA in 2014.
Fasth so quickly impressed Ducks brass this season that he was rewarded with a two-year, $5.8 million extension,after just eight games at the NHL level.
The X-factor here is the age of both Hiller and Fasth.
They’re both on the wrong side of 30 (Hiller turned 31 in February; Fasth is 31 in August) and Hiller is now two years removed from his 2011 All-Star appearance.
As such, the timing for Gibson could work out well, as both incumbents are expected to be off the books by the 2015-16 season. Gibson would be 22 by then, with a fair amount of experience at the AHL level.
Whatever the case, Greco says the Ducks have a good one in the making.
“His composure and poise have been outstanding all along,” Greco said. “He’s a leader in our room. That, even beyond his ability, is what sets him apart.”