The Anaheim Ducks‘ tough loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night was quickly overshadowed yesterday in the happiest town on earth with the announcement of a $3.8 million contract extension for defenseman Mark Fistric. This is a move showing incredible promise to this year’s mission of a little unfinished business (a motto the Ducks created at season’s start as a result to their first round playoff exit in 2013).
After spending previous seasons with the Dallas Stars and the Edmonton Oilers, Fistric came to the Ducks as a free agent on a $900,000 contract in August as a name that didn’t create much initial buzz in Anaheim’s hockey world. However, the hockey gods like to laugh at any plans a coach and his crew may think they have for a promising season, and it’s no secret Anaheim was on that short list from the start. After veteran blue liners Sheldon Souray, Francois Beauchemin and Luca Sbisa found unfortunate homes on injured reserve, Fistric’s signing became one of high importance and the door to prove his worth flipped right open.
Having only played consistently since November, Fistric has already garnered a respectable 27 points and an impressive 123 hits, finding the brunt of his value in mere on ice presence.
The Ducks don’t lack point producers with lines filled by the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jakob Silfverberg and the emerging Nick Bonino. But a team has hardly hoisted the Stanley Cup by point production alone. And to play evenly against heavyweight powerhouses such as the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks, Anaheim needed a higher physical compete level — a statement Fistric’s play has helped define.
An extension of this kind not only speaks for those directly involved but for what is behind it. Anaheim has received much praise throughout the season for their extreme depth and never-ending ability to not only adapt, but to win with those adaptations in play. And they don’t seem like they will be stopping anytime soon.
Fistric’s hybrid of playing a simple yet hard-hitting game will only continue to fill Anaheim’s defensive gaps where needed. And with each game from here on out being played on an increasingly bigger stage, I have a sneaky feeling Fistric’s worth will be a spotlight.