John Gibson inks massive eight-year contract extension with Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks took a gamble in the summer of 2016, dealing goaltender Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs and leaving rising star John Gibson alone as the team’s heir apparent.
Although his workload has slowly increased over the subsequent two years, though, Gibson has only continued to get better statistically, going from a .920 save percentage in all situations his 2015-16 year to a .924 in 2016-17, then a .926 in 2017-18.
As a result, the Ducks have given the 25-year-old Pittsburgh native the ultimate symbol of their confidence, inking him to a whopping eight-year contract extension worth a reported $6.4 million per season. Per The Athletic’s Eric Stephens, the deal has a limited no-trade clause starting in the UFA years of the deal, meaning the team will only have the next three seasons to deal the goaltender should they so desire – although don’t expect that to be something they’re exploring.
The deal, which will kick in at the start of the 2019-20 NHL season, won’t expire until the 2026-27 season. At that point, Gibson will be 34-years old, and the deal will expire with a projected 14 years of pro hockey under his belt (assuming the league sees action in the projected lockout year coming up).
Drafted 39th overall by the Ducks at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Gibson played for the US National Development Program prior to heading to the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers in his first post-draft season.
Two years after initially getting selected, Gibson went pro for the Ducks, making his pro debut in the spring of 2013 and making his NHL debut the following year in a three-game stint. He would slowly work his way up the team’s depth chart, though, ultimately providing Anaheim with a fairly seamless transition from the Jonas Hiller era to the Andersen years, then taking over as the team’s official number one in 2016.
Since the 2015-16 season, Gibson has recorded a .900 or better when looking at his save percentage in even-strength, power-play, and short-handed situations by themselves, an impressive accomplishment given that he faced over 31 shots per game last season.
With 16 shutouts in just 178 career NHL games and an impressive .608 quality start percentage on his career, the 25-year-old has quickly become one of the most trusted goaltenders in the NHL. He hasn’t quite made his way into Vezina contention (at least, by voter standards) just yet, but it seems like only a matter of time; with a career high 60 regular season games played in his 2017-18 campaign, any continued consistency moving forward should get him on the ballot’s short list.
Concerns with his game in the past have stemmed from weak second-save positional recovery, with exploitable holes in his tracking game off of the rebound. His need for explosive recovery rather than controlled tracking off a puck rebound has raised issues with his long-term health in relation to groin and hip longevity, and injuries in each of his first handful of seasons have confirmed those worries to an extent.
A more controlled Gibson has shown up at the rink in the last season, though, and his work with goaltending coach Sudarshan “Sudsie” Maharaj seems to be paying off. If Maharaj and Gibson can minimize risk for injury moving forward, the deal looks to be perfectly within market value range – and although a long-term deal in net is always going to be a risk, keeping the deal under $7 million could prove to be a steal for Anaheim in the long run.