I’ve been fascinated watching the goaltending situation in Anaheim over the last season and a half. At the start of it all, Jean-Sebastien Giguere was widely recognized as one of the league’s elite goaltenders, a guy whose name was occasionally mentioned in the context of a job with Team Canada. There was good reason for it too; Giguere had been a consistently solid goaltender, and of course the fact that he’s made two finals appearances with the Ducks (he won the Conn Smythe one time, and the Stanley Cup the other) automatically puts him in the “money goaltender” conversation.
Giguere’s loss of the starting job to unheralded backup Jonas Hiller (another very good goaltender) knocked him down the list of NHL goaltenders, but I’m not at all sure that was fair. As some readers may know, Giguere’s father died on December 15, 2008. Naturally, the goaltender struggled after that happened, and I think it might be illuminating if we consider Giguere’s 2008-09 season as two seasons: one before his father’s death, and one after. Let’s consider it along with his play the last three years:
- 2006-07: 36-10-8, 2.26 GAA, .918 SV%
- 2007-08: 35-17-6, 2.12 GAA, .922 SV%
- 2008-09 (up to Dec. 15): 11-7-2, 2.86 GAA, .913 SV%
- 2008-09 (after Dec. 15): 8-11-4, 3.34 GAA, .886 SV%
- 2009-10: 3-4-4, 2.63 GAA, .920 SV%
We can argue the rationale behind signing a goaltender to a contract worth $6.0 million per season, but I’d suggest that if Giguere was worth it when the Ducks signed him to the deal, he’s worth it now. Looking at those numbers, I know exactly what I see: I see an elite goaltender whose game fell apart for a while after his father died.
Anaheim has a decision to make this summer; Giguere’s under contract for another season while Hiller will need a new contract. Based on who they’ve started this season, the smart money says they probably want to keep Hiller; if so, I wonder if they would be willing to take some salary back from a team interested in acquiring Giguere. It’s an avenue worth pursuing because I’d guess that Giguere would take an opportunity to start and run with it.