The name Viktor Fasth has been popping up so often lately in reference to the Anaheim Ducks that it may leave many hockey fans wondering just who this guy actually is. He’s won all four of his games with the Ducks so far this season and turned heads by shutting out the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 6. But, again, who is this guy? Here’s a primer on the Ducks’ new goaltending wonder.
First of all, his name is pronounced kind of like ‘fast’ with the a sound more like ‘ahh’, like opening your mouth wide at the dentist. Though he goes by the first name Viktor, his full name is actually Erik Sixten Viktor Fasth. Born in August 1982 in Kalix, Sweden, Fasth came up through the four tiers of Swedish hockey as a goaltender just like his dad Kenteric.
Yes, four: the top is Elitserien, the AHL equivalent is Allsvenskan, but then there’s Division 1 and Division 2 beneath those. Sometimes, teams from the lower leagues earn the right to be promoted a level up through playoffs, but then if it’s an off year, they can also be demoted. Imagine if the NHL did that!
Fasth often found himself among the best goaltenders in those leagues, including first among all Allsvenskan goalies in the 2009-10 campaign. In 2010-11, he signed with AIK, who had just been promoted back to Elitserien. Once again, he was near the top for goalies in the league, helped AIK get into the playoffs and was given the Guldpuck, which is like the Hart Trophy, and the Honken Trophy for his efforts. The Honken is like the Vezina Trophy and has been awarded to Fasth two seasons in a row. There’s also a three-time Honken winner named Henrik Lundqvist from back when he was playing in the Elitserien.
He’s represented Sweden twice at the World Championship in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he was named tournament MVP and best goaltender despite the fact that Sweden lost to Finland in the final. The 2012 tournament wasn’t as successful as the previous year, but he still enjoyed the experience.
Fasth inked a one-year, $1 million deal with Anaheim in May 2012, played briefly in the Allsvenskan during the lockout and then finally got his chance to debut in the NHL, at the age of 30, last month. His first game in the NHL against the Nashville Predators went to a shootout. In stopping all Nashville players from sinking a shootout goal, he nabbed David Legwand‘s attempt out of the air and into his glove to seal the victory:
He’s won all the other games he’s played so far for Anaheim and is proving himself a worthy backup to fellow European goaltender Jonas Hiller. Actually, he might even be trying to challenge for the starting job or for a more equal division of playing time than what is generally awarded to a backup. With plays like that, time will tell.
Here are some more clips from Fasth:
He does an old-school poke check on a breaking Patrick Marleau.
An interview from the 2011 World Championship when he was MVP.
A Swedish-language highlights pack of Fasth from his Guldpuck and Honken season. Sometimes, he even gets a little physical with other players.
Another clip package from Sweden shows that he’s done the glove-nab before, among other things.