On Friday, the Anaheim Ducks made a somewhat surprising move when they sent rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen to the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL and recalled top prospect John Gibson to take his place. The Ducks aren’t exactly struggling, having won their last five games and 15 of their last 16 games. Andersen has been shaky in his last few outings, but still boasts a 10-2-0 record with a 2.07 goals-against average. Gibson was the 39th overall pick in 2011, and with back-to-back games against the Phoenix Coyotes (Saturday) and Detroit Red Wings (Sunday), could be set to make his NHL debut this weekend.
Gibson was an OHL standout for the Kitchener Rangers, winning 38 games in two seasons. As an AHL rookie this season, he has an 11-9-3 record and 2.61 goals-against average for the Admirals. He turned more than a few heads when he led the United States to a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championships, a performance that he followed up by leading the U.S. to a bronze medal with a 1.56 goals-against average at last year’s World Championships. Gibson is a high-profile prospect who should benefit from this experience with the Ducks, and with the way Anaheim is cruising along there may never be a better chance for him to make a debut with minimal pressure.
The Ducks lead not only the Western Conference but the entire NHL with 71 points, and their 33-8-5 record gives them some breathing room for now in a highly competitive Pacific Division. Jonas Hiller is 21-4-4 this season, and he will get the Saturday start against a Coyotes team that he has dominated this season (4-0-0, 1.96 GAA). Gibson’s best chance to see action is Sunday against a Red Wings team that was humiliated by the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.