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The Ducks’ net now belongs to John Gibson

Nashville Predators v Anaheim Ducks - Game One

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 15: John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks makes a save on a shot from the Nashville Predators during the second period in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on April 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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This is part of Anaheim Ducks day at PHT...

After sharing the net the past two seasons John Gibson is going to enter the 2016-17 campaign as the Anaheim Ducks’ No. 1 goaltender following the offseason trade of Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He should not only be up to the challenge that comes with that role, he should also be ready to take a big step toward becoming one of the top goaltenders in the NHL.

Is that a big statement to make about a goalie that is still only 23 years old and has just 66 games of NHL experience?

It sure is, but Gibson has already demonstrated very early in his career that he has the ability to be one of the top players at his position, while playing at a level (a .920 save percentage so far in his career) that few goalies his age have been able to reach in recent years. If you go back over that past 20 years, that save percentage is the highest of any goalie that has played in at least 60 games before their age 23 season.

He already made a statement this past season when he appeared in 40 games and finished seventh in the Vezina Trophy voting, the only goalie under the age of 26 (and one of only three under the age of 29) to get a vote.

But for as good as he has been, and as good as he could be in the future, his value to the Ducks goes beyond his actual production on the ice.

Thanks to the three-year contract extension he is starting this season, one that counts just $2.3 million against the salary cap, he is still going to be a bargain against the cap in the coming seasons.

That is a huge advantage for the Ducks from a team-building standpoint because they now have a young starting goalie, one that has not only been very productive in his young career but also still has enormous upside, signed for one of the smallest cap hits among the NHL’s starters.

Goaltending can be a game-changing position in the NHL because it is the one spot where one player can significantly impact the outcome of a game, and depending on how strong the performance is, perhaps even the outcome of an entire season with his performance.

If you can get that sort of impact from a player that isn’t counting a significant amount against the salary cap it gives the front office more flexibility to add in other areas. And for a team like the Ducks that doesn’t always spend all the way to the cap, that is going to be a significant luxury, especially as the team still needs to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm this summer.

Gibson has the potential to be that type of goaltender, and he is going to get the chance to prove it this season as the Ducks’ go-to-guy in net.