The Ducks have signed goaltender Viktor Fasth to a two-year contract extension through the 2014-15 NHL season. Per club policy, no financial terms of the deal were disclosed.
“Viktor has proven himself not only this year in the NHL, but the previous two seasons as the top goaltender in Sweden,” said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. “We are pleased to be able to keep him and feel fortunate to have two top NHL goaltenders going forward.”
Fasth, 30 (8/8/82), has appeared in nine contests for Anaheim this season, posting a perfect 8-0-0 record (one no decision) with a 1.78 goals-against average (GAA) and a .933 save percentage (SV%). The 6-0, 186-pound netminder is just the third goaltender in NHL history to win his first eight-or-more career decisions (also Ray Emery with Ottawa, an NHL record 9-0-0 from 2003-05 and Bob Froese with Philadelphia, 8-0-0 in Jan. 1983). Co-leading the NHL in wins, Fasth also ranks sixth in GAA and tied for seventh in SV%. He recorded his first career shutout at Colorado on Feb. 6, stopping all 31 shots he faced in a 3-0 decision. Signed as a free agent on May 21, 2012, Fasth made his NHL debut on Jan. 26, making 19 saves in a 3-2 shootout win over Nashville at Honda Center.
A native of Kalix, Sweden, Fasth was named the Swedish Elite League’s (SEL) Goaltender of the Year (Honken Trophy) for both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, becoming the first goalie to do so since Henrik Lundqvist (Vastra Frolunda, 2002-2005). He played the 2011-12 regular season with AIK Stockholm, recording five shutouts with a 23-16-6 record, a 2.12 GAA and .931 SV% in 46 games. He ranked third among SEL goaltenders in SV%, second in shutouts and tied for third in wins. Fasth also played in six games for Team Sweden at the 2012 IIHF World Championship in Finland and Sweden, going 4-2 with a 2.34 GAA and .902 SV%.
Fasth began his international career at the 2011 World Championship in Slovakia, helping lead his country to the championship game and an eventual silver medal. Along with a 6-1 record, three shutouts and a 1.71 GAA, Fasth led tournament goaltenders with a .946 SV% en route to being named the tournament’s MVP and top goaltender. He made his SEL debut with AIK Stockholm in 2010-11, posting a 22-12-8 record while registering two shutouts, a 2.26 GAA and .924 SV% in 42 games. He was named the SEL Player of the Year (Golden Puck award) in 2010-11 and won his first Honken Trophy as the Goaltender of the Year.
Fasth spoke to reporters via conference call Wednesday afternoon:
On how his years in Sweden helped him develop as a goalie When I played in the second league in Sweden, I got to work with a really good goalie coach who helped me take an extra step in my career. I got the chance to play in the Elite league there, where I met a goalie coach named , Stefan Persson. He helped me a lot to develop my game, and that helped me a lot to get the chance to get over here.
On when he realized it was a reasonable goal to make it to the NHL When I was 29 [Laughs.] My first year in the Swedish Elite League (in 2010-11), there were teams starting to contact me, and that’s when I first thought it could be a possibility. As funny as it sounds, it’s pretty true.
On whether he made enough money to support himself playing in the second division in Sweden Not until my last year there. Up until three years ago, I had a daytime job together with hockey. I worked at the local high school as a teacher. It was pretty good. There were some tough times, but I’m glad I did that. I know how it is to play in the lower levels, and I know there are many good hockey players fighting their way through it, having a daytime job at the same time they’re trying to perform in the hockey rink. It’s pretty tough in the lower leagues.
On his expectations coming into the NHL It’s the best league in the world, and as a hockey player you always dream you can play there. That’s pretty much what I’ve done since I was a kid. I just wanted to get over here and show what I can do and the way I can play. I have to work really hard for that every day. I try and do my best for the team when the coach decides to play me. That’s what I’ve tried to do.
On his thoughts about being in Anaheim so far I love it here. It’s a great team and a great organization. The place is beautiful too and the weather is nice, so I’m just enjoying every day here. My family [girlfriend and daughter] got here two days ago, and we just moved into our new place and we’re trying to get settled.
On getting used to the different rink size in the NHL compared to Sweden It was really good for me to play three games in Norfolk before the season. I was over here this summer in development camp working with [goalie coach] Pete Peeters for a week. I think that really helped me prepare. The angles are pretty different here, but getting those games in Norfolk really helped me here.
On his style as a goalie I think I play a bit old school in how much I use my stick. The younger guys coming up these days, especially in Sweden, are not used to using their sticks to direct the puck. They just try to block with their leg pads. It’s just a thing for me, I think it’s easier to direct the puck with my stick.
On whether he considers himself the starter No, I don’t. Jonas played the last game against Columbus here and played incredibly well. I just try and work hard, and I will play when the coach tells me to play. That’s how things work.