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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Frederik Andersen knows he’s an NHL level No. 1 goaltender. Not only has he proven himself as an everyday starter during the regular season, in the playoffs he’s taken the Anaheim Ducks to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final.
“Of course, you want to play. That's the bottom line. You want to be in net. When you know you can play, you want to be in net,” Andersen said.
For most teams re-signing him as a restricted free agent in the offseason would be a no-brainer. But the Ducks have a bit of a different situation with their goaltenders. John Gibson was re-signed last September for the manageable salary cap hit number of $2.3 million per-season over the next three years.
The 22-year-old Gibson made the NHL All-Star team this past year and had a 2.07 goal-against average and .920 save percentage in 40 games as Andersen, who came into the season as the Ducks' No. 1, dealt with a few different health problems. Andersen finished the year with a 22-9-7 record, a 2.30 goal-against average and .919 save percentage.
Gibson started the first two games of the playoffs, losing both before relinquishing the net to Andersen.
The 26-year-old Andersen’s two-year $2.3 million contract is set to expire on July 1. While he’s arguably the Ducks’ most experienced goaltending option, he’s also Anaheim’s most valuable trade chip this offseason.
The Ducks don’t need two starting goaltenders and could plug another roster hole by trading a netminder. Andersen will likely command a greater per-year salary than Gibson in his next deal.
“I think when the time comes some decision will be made,” Andersen said. “I like playing here. I know all the guys love having me in the net. I like it here, so obviously would love to play.”
Speaking with reporters at Ducks getaway day, Andersen sounded like a person who didn’t want to leave Anaheim. The Ducks picked him in the third-round of the 2012 NHL Draft and worked with him to help him become a solid NHL netminder. His status won’t change how he prepares for next season if he’s in Anaheim or somewhere else.
“I've got to talk to my trainers, plan my summer and take it from there,” Andersen said. “It doesn't matter where I'll play. It doesn't matter how I prepare. I have to make sure I prepare the right way and prepare for next year.”
Andersen didn’t sound 100 percent comfortable when asked about sharing the net next season with Gibson again.
“It's possible. Never write anything off. Who knows? It's too early to tell,” he said. “I don't know if it'll happen. We'll see. I want to play a lot.”
General manager Bob Murray understands that both Andersen and Gibson may not want play on the same team next year simply because they both want the majority of ice-time.
“I mean, they’re No. 1 goalies. Any good No. 1 goalie I’ve known in my life wants the bloody net,” Murray said. “So, do they want that? That’s an issue. But, they’re a pretty good team. It would be nice, but we’ll see."
Expansion could also play a role in Murray’s goaltending decision. If teams are only allowed to protect one goaltender, he’ll have to trade one to not lose him for nothing. Expansion could happen as soon as 2017-18.
“We have two very good young goaltenders, and again, you have to remember when you’re talking about this - expansion draft… if we have expansion,” Murray noted.
Even though the decision is tough, it’s a choice a lot of general managers would like to have. But it has to be right for the team and the goaltender. And it sounds that the Ducks embarrassment of goaltending riches has hit a tipping point.
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