Goalies Giguere, Hiller will fight for No. 1 spot

September, 15, 2009

Fantasy hockey fans around the world are no doubt cringing after coach Randy Carlyle's interesting decision in Anaheim.

Despite Jonas Hiller's breakthrough campaign in 2008-09, he hasn't been handed the starting goaltending job entering this season.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the veteran Cup winner from 2007, has been told he's got an equal shot at it.

"We're not casting Giguere out by the wayside," Carlyle told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "I told both of them, 'You're going to have to earn it.' Neither of them has been anointed the No. 1 goalie.

"Whoever earns the opportunity will start. If you win, you're in."

It's a fascinating decision by Carlyle, given Hiller's stellar play against San Jose and Detroit in the playoffs, but I also think it's the correct one. Maybe this hasn't even played into Carlyle's decision, but I think it's important for the Ducks to rebuild Giguere's asset value around the league. It's hardly a secret that Ducks GM Bob Murray shopped the goalie around the league in the offseason but found no takers for a player slated to earn $13 million over the final two years of his deal ($6 million this season and $7 million next season).

However, if Giguere recaptures some of his old form -- and I'm more than ready to give him a mulligan after he lost his focus following the death of his father last season -- you don't think a few teams will realize they're not good enough in goal come December? Giguere has a no-trade clause, of course, which complicates things, but he might be willing to play ball if it's clear to him halfway through the season that Hiller is the man in net. Giguere has too much pride to sit on the bench.

Hiller, by the way, is in the last year of a deal that pays him $1.3 million; after that, he'll become a restricted free agent and will look for a nice raise. All the more reason for the Ducks to make up their mind on which goalie they want to carry the load.

Step right up, Jonas and J.S., and make your case now.

"OK, we expect to do something here"

Let's stay in Southern California and check in with the Los Angeles Kings. There's a bit of a buzz with this young and rising team, and rightfully so. The Kings may be ready finally to make that playoff jump after a careful and patient rebuild by GM Dean Lombardi.

"This is obviously the most excited people have been about the L.A. Kings since I've been here," Kings captain Dustin Brown told ESPN.com on Monday night. "I think a lot of that is due to having a lot of the same guys back, the same core. We're really building from the inside out, as opposed to the outside in.

"So I know that from a players' standpoint, I've been here for six years, [Alexander] Frolov for seven or more years, [Anze Kopitar]'s been here for a while. We've been handed the right pieces as we go. This is sort of the first time we're all looking at each other going, 'OK, we expect to do something here.'"

The Kings and Ducks have never faced each other in a playoff series. Count me in for that one if we finally get it this season.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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