Recent reports suggest John Gibson could return to the net as soon as Friday night against the Vegas Golden Knights. But should the Anaheim Ducks just shut their franchise net-minder down?
The Anaheim Ducks season went off the rails long ago despite the Herculean play of goaltender John Gibson. Gibson has been one of few bright spots during the 2018-19′ season. And his play shows with a coach suited to the new NHL, and an above average roster he could lead a team to a Stanley Cup. Gibson can win and steal games all by himself and his play improved style, control, and athleticism should be something to be excited about.
But this season is over, the Ducks have 19 games remaining and as of writing this, are sitting with a record of 24-30-9. This puts the Ducks 10 points out of a wildcard spot and it seems that fans and front office alike are comfortable playing out the remainder of the season, flushing it and looking towards a lottery pick and another one in the top 20 to “re-tool” this team on the fly. With all that said it begs the question why put John Gibson in the net for what amounts to meaningless games?
Think Big Picture
There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it, the Ducks need John Gibson. Regardless of what trades, free agent signings, or draft picks they make to improve and bolster this team, they are going nowhere without #36. Gibson was garnering Vezina trophy conversation at the halfway point of the season despite the Ducks mammoth struggles. Gibson was facing 30+ and sometimes 40+ shots against a night on a team who has the least goals for in the entire league. There was no question that at some point he would come back down to earth and his numbers since the calendar flipped to 2019 are not as good as the end of 2018. That’s what happens when you need to stop 200 shots in a 4 game span. Even still Gibson has respectable numbers with a 2.93 GAA and .914 Sv%.
On February 7th during the Ducks 4-0 loss in Ottawa Gibson was injured when fellow teammate Jaycob Megna. Gibson finished the second period but then was lifted between periods for precautionary reasons. Gibson has yet to play since then and regardless of the injury, he should remain on the shelf until next season. This is not a knock on Gibson but more of a look to the future of this team. This is Gibson’s team. He is locked into an 8-year contract extension that starts next season. And he could very well lead the Ducks to a Cup and then some down the line. So why throw him into this dumpster fire now?
Honestly for the section of fans that believe the “tank” is in full effect to land the Ducks a lottery pick Gibson hurts that. He could steal wins and have them move out of lottery pick territory. And for what? So he can get some ice time before he goes into a long off-season? Gibson will be ready to go next season whether he plays all the games remaining this season or none of them. By playing him again this season you are also putting him in harm’s way. Yes at even given moment a player could be injured during a game but as stated above these games are virtually meaningless. No reason to put Gibson into another potential injury for really no reason other than pride.
If Gibson stays on the shelf it also puts the other goalies in the Ducks stable into the spotlight. Ryan Miller will most likely be the Ducks back-up again next season as he tries to go on one more deep run before he hangs up his pads. He is a free agent but he has played very well since being here and seems to enjoy being a Duck. Miller will most likely take a team friendly deal and continue to back up Gibson. With that said another goalie who has been able to see some action could be on display down the final 19 games. And by all accounts, his path to be a starting NHL goalie will be blocked in Anaheim.
More from Pucks of a Feather
- Who could the Anaheim Ducks consider presenting offer sheets to?
- Is Pierre-Luc Dubois on the cards for the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks?
- Making the case for the Anaheim Ducks to trade with the Edmonton Oilers
- Anaheim Ducks might benefit tremendously by trading John Gibson
- How close are the Anaheim Ducks to becoming contenders again?
The Ducks could and should explore a deal for Kevin Boyle this summer. Boyle is signed for another season past this one at just 650,000. He is 26 and has been putting up decent numbers at the AHL level. He got his NHL shot earlier this month and did it in style blanking the Vancouver Canucks with a 35 save shutout. He has followed that up with 3 losses but his numbers remain solid with a 2.17 GAA and a .928 Sv%. Boyle won’t net a first round pick but he could net a 4th-5th round selection. And the Ducks draft team has certainly proved themselves worthy of finding talent all over the draft. Boyle is basically a wasted talent at this point as he has reached his ceiling. The Ducks should showcase him over these final 19 and see what they can get for him this summer.
John Gibson is the next face of the Anaheim Ducks franchise. Depending on how quickly this “re-tool” takes Gibson has the skill set and make-up to lead the Ducks to multiple championships. But a championship isn’t in the cards this season. So Gibson should rest, rehab, and reload for next season where there will be a new coach, new system, new team, and new identity as the Ducks look to return to Cup contender status.