Friday, April 24, 2009

Anaheim's dilemma


Okay, put yourself in the shoes of Anaheim general manager Bob Murray and coach Randy Carlyle. Your season is still on-going (and looks to be on for a couple more weeks; good job once again, San Jose) but this summer presents somewhat of a problem for the two of you.

And it is this: What do you do about your goaltending?

Now, there's no goalie controversy going on in Orange County. No. Jonas Hiller has flat out stolen/earned the No. 1 job over Stanley Cup- and Conn Smythe-winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Hiller was the one Carlyle turned to down the stretch to get the Ducks into the playoffs and it's been Hiller who has stonewalled the mighty Presidents Trophy winners through four games.

So while Carlyle can keep his thoughts on this season, Murray has to be considering some options.

This could be a good problem to have. A team can never have enough good goaltending and having two quality netminders can create competition and have each player at the top of his game. I'm not so sure that will work in the playoffs, however.

So what does Murray do? Regardless of how far Anaheim goes this season, I think it's fair to say Hiller has enjoyed a breakout season. In 46 games, Hiller posted a 2.39 GAA with 23 wins and a .919 save percentage. He had four shutouts. Giguere struggled all season (3.10 GAA, .900 save percentage) and was perhaps one of the least deserving All-Star starters in recent memory.

But Giguere still won a Cup and joined the short list of playoff MVPs from a losing team. He's also under contract for two more seasons at a cap hit of $6 million. Hiller is signed through just next season at a much more reasonable $1.3 million (courtesy of

To say the least, it does not make much sense to pay your backup goalie $6 million. Part of Giguere's struggles this season can most likely be linked to the illness and subsequent death of his father, so maybe after time he'll return to form.

Murray has the following options: Do nothing and keep both goalies and suggest Carlyle have somewhat of a 50-50 split (Giguere has played more than 60 games just once anyway) or see if Giguere bounces back and/or if Hiller comes back to Earth next season; he could trade Hiller, who, at 26 isn't exactly a prospect but is also quite a ways from visiting Father Time, and there are always teams looking for goalies; or Murray can try to trade Giguere.

If Murray had to make a decision right now, then it would appear obvious to trade Giguere. Of course, the problem with that is finding a team willing and able to accept the cap hit that comes with him.

To that end, let me throw out some teams desperate for goaltending help: Colorado, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal. If Philadelphia is eliminated in the first round, add the Flyers to the list.

Do you notice anything about the teams I mentioned? I put the Maples Leafs on there. Who's running that ship now? Brian Burke, formerly of Anaheim. Would he make a play for Giguere? I don't see why not. How many rhetorical questions can I fit in this paragraph?

Toronto has some decent cap space for next season and the acquisition of Giguere would likely lead to the departure of Vesa Toskala.

In a vacuum/bubble/perfect world, the Kings would be a good fit too. They've got some solid talent at forward and on the blueline but are lacking between the pipes. Jon Quick and Erik Ersberg both have shown flashes, but are still young and works-in-progress. Giguere could come in and stabilize that position. They also have some excellent cap room.

But would those teams trade with each other? (There's another one.)

Colorado really needs a goalie but could also really use a lot of other help, and Montreal can't be counted out, after its centennial season ended in getting swept in the first round. The Habs fans seem to have already turned on 21-year-old Carey Price, taunting and jeering at him during Game 4. They voted Giguere as a starter for the all-star game, so they'd probably vote for him to start in the bleu blanc et rouge.

I don't know what the Ducks will do with Giguere and Hiller, nor am I suggesting anything is in the works or that I have any kind of inside information. I'm just saying, if they decide to trade Giguere, I'd expect him to land with his old boss who's now in Toronto.


Anonymous said...

You seem to have over looked that Giguere has a no trade clause.

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

Doesn't mean Giguere won't be willing to waive it.