The Anaheim Ducks are bringing Lukas Dostal to North America. Cue the Goalie controversy or cue the correct and excellent path of player development.
By now, everyone has heard the news that the Anaheim Ducks hottest young netminder since John Gibson is jumping across the pond and making his way to training camp. For those out of the loop, Tampereen Ilves tweeted a highlight reel last week.
It’s an interesting move for Lukas Dostal to come over to North America from a particularly good situation in Finland. Firstly, he comes from a relatively safe country, that has had more progress in flattening the curve with COVID-19, and moves to a less ideal situation within the United States.
Secondly, and perhaps more pertinently, Dostal will be coming from an advantageous position where he is currently getting significant game time and, pretty much, without hyperbole, dominating the competition while doing it.
Nonetheless, he is making the move across the pond. What exactly that move entails, however, is still uncertain. Firstly, the Anaheim Ducks are currently without a backup netminder to play behind John Gibson and they’re short on money to sign a good one.
In a season that the Ducks have voiced their intention to contend a cheap contract player like Dostal could be the fix if his play continues. However, that raises the question of whether playing 15-20 games pro-rata, given no one currently knows what the season will look like, is in the best interests of Dostal’s development.
There is also the consideration that perhaps Ryan Miller is coming back and is merely waiting for the Anaheim Ducks to make some moves regarding their cap situation prior to signing on the dotted line. If this is the case, Dostal would seem destined for AHL duties with the San Diego Gulls. The top levels of Finnish hockey aren’t too dissimilar to the AHL, so there should be a relatively easy transition coming over from Europe.
Eventually and inevitably, Dostal will be required to ply his trade on the smaller ice surfaces of North America. The question then becomes what happens to Anthony Stolarz and what is the timeline for Dostal taking over from Gibson in the net?
That’s not to say that Dostal would jump straight from the AHL to taking the starter’s job. However, it is likely that a similar scenario to Gibson and Frederick Andersen would unfold. Dostal would take a 1B role behind Gibson and eventually push him out the door and take the job in a couple of years later.
Yet, another option is that Dostal is merely coming over for training camp, before heading back to Europe. In a lot of ways, this could make some sense, though it is unlikely. However, the Director of Sports at IIves has left the door open should that be the case.
"“If Lukas still needs Ilves’ help on his way to the NHL games, we will continue to give it to him, but at this point we want to wish him luck in the next challenges in North America.” -Timo Koskela"
At this stage, it seems highly unlikely that the Anaheim Ducks would consider taking Dostal out of a fantastic situation to have him be the 4th strong netminder behind Gibson, Miller, and Stolarz. Something would either have to give. At face value, it would seem that the current strongest options in the development pathway are that Dostal would either be given the reigns of the AHL net or he will be sent back to Finland after getting a taste of North American action and spending time with the team.
Option A is potentially the strongest option on paper, as it has the same benefits of significant game time as option B, but with the added upside of Dostal learning the Ducks current system of defensive play on the smaller ice surface. There is also the option of him gaining NHL exposure through the year. If anything, Gibson’s development pathway very likely gives a fair indication of what Dostal’s could look like.