The Ducks have identified their goalie of the future, signing Jonas Hiller to a four-year, $18 million extension announced today. The27-year-old will make $4.5 million in each year of the contract.
The contract comes after a quick three-year ascension for Hiller in the NHL, in which he took over the number one mantle from Jean-Sebastien Giguere, led the Ducks into the second round of the playoffs last season, and now will be paid like a starting goalie.
“When I got here I didn’t know what to expect, my first year was more about showing I could play here,” Hiller said. “My second year I tried to get better … having that security is a great thing.”
Since the Ducks signed Hiller as a free agent out of the Swiss Elite League, only Boston’s Tim Thomas (.9244) and Florida’s Tomas Vokoun (.9241) have a better save percentage than Hiller (.9192). He’s just ahead of Roberto Lunogo, Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller on that list.
This season he is 21-15-2 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. Like the rest of his teammates, those numbers have gotten better as the Ducks have turned their season around.
“We had a lot of new players and never found a way to play 60 minutes,” Hiller said. “There is a lot of talent on this team. I was able to be a factor in that process.”
Hiller said that Giguere was the first teammate he told about his new contract — “that’s the honesty me and Jiggy have,” he said — and doesn’t expect it will hamper their relationship as teammates. Giguere is under contract through the end of 2011, but holds a no-trade clause and has made it clear he does not want to be a backup goaltender.
If Hiller continues to play like a starter, it will be difficult for Giguere to regain the No. 1 mantle in Anaheim anytime soon — specifically, through 2014.
“I almost feel sad to sign an extension, knowing I’ll be around four more years,” Hiller said. “(Giguere) is always supportive of me.”