Ducks sign goalie Jonas Hiller to four-year contract
Jonas Hiller considered becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer, but his hold on the Ducks’ No. 1 goaltending job and his comfort level were strong enough reasons for him to agree to a four-year, $18-million contract that will keep him with the team through the 2013-14 season.
“I was going to check the market, but I like it a lot in Anaheim. I like the team and everything and I would love to stay,” he said by phone Saturday. “I think we have a lot of talent and a good future.”
Hiller, who will be 28 on Feb. 12, won the starting role from Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was the backbone of the Ducks’ Stanley Cup championship team in 2007 and the most valuable player in their 2003 run to the seventh game of the Cup finals.
The Swiss-born Hiller, who was chosen to play for his homeland in the upcoming Vancouver Olympics, has a 2.75 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 39 appearances this season.
Since his debut in the 2007-08 season, his .919 save percentage ranks third among NHL goaltenders who have played a minimum of 100 games, behind the .9244 compiled by Boston’s Tim Thomas and the .9241 compiled by Florida’s Tomas Vokoun.
Hiller said he was thinking about a lengthier deal but settled on four years. “It’s perfect,” he said. “When I’m done I will be 32 and I will still have a chance of signing another contract.”
Ducks General Manger Bob Murray, who was the team’s senior vice president of hockey operations when the Ducks lost Ilya Bryzgalov on waivers in 2007, wanted to be sure Hiller would stay.
“He was going to be unrestricted and we had to move,” Murray said by phone. “He’s proved himself: Look at his numbers.
“We faced a situation a few years ago where we lost Bryzgalov and we weren’t going to let that happen again. He’s our No. 1 goaltender and he earned his contract and he wanted to stay.”
Hiller said he remains positive about the Ducks’ playoff chances even though they were four points out of eighth place before Saturday’s games.
“We have to believe we can make the playoffs,” he said. “If we keep playing this way we have a chance. We can’t let down. There’s a lot of pressure on us that we have to win every game.”
With Hiller under contract, the Ducks are committed to spending $11.5 million on their top two goalies next season. That includes the $7 million they owe Giguere, who has been unable to reverse the decline that began to affect his play last season.
Giguere is earning $6 million this season. Coupled with his hefty paycheck next season and a no-trade clause, he’s not attractive trade bait.
Asked if he had any trade discussions involving Giguere, Murray said, “nothing at the moment.” He added, “We’ll do the best we can for him and for us.”
Murray also deflated persistent rumors that speculate he will trade winger Bobby Ryan, who is eligible for restricted free agency after this season.
“Unequivocally I have not talked to anybody about trading him,” Murray said. “Anybody I talk to I gave a list of people I’m not going to trade, and he’s one of them.”
He said he had set a timeframe earlier this season with Ryan’s agent, Don Meehan, to complete a deal and when they couldn’t come to terms, they agreed to resume talks after the season. If another team were to sign Ryan to an offer sheet the Ducks would have the right to match the offer.
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