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Viktor Fasth to Make NHL Debut

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Viktor Fasth likely to make NHL debut this Saturday.

Viktor Fasth (#30), goaltender of Sweden stops Jaromir Jagr (#68) of Czech Republic during the IIHF World Championship semi final match
Viktor Fasth (#30), goaltender of Sweden stops Jaromir Jagr (#68) of Czech Republic during the IIHF World Championship semi final match
Martin Rose

As noted by ESPN earlier today:

We may soon get our first NHL look at goaltender Viktor Fasth of the Anaheim Ducks. Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports the 30-year-old is in position to “potentially make his debut” for the Ducks on Saturday versus the Nashville Predators after Friday’s tilt with the Vancouver Canucks.

“He’s an unknown because we haven’t seen him play,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But at the same time, I think he’s very athlete and very quick. I’m looking forward to seeing him play. And he’ll play sooner than later.”

The Swedish star signed a one-year, $1-million deal with the Ducks last May. A standout in the Swedish Elite League since 2010-11, Fasth recently endured a three-game North American introduction with the AHL Norfolk Admirals. He performed very well.

If all goes well, Fasth could challenge No. 1 Jonas Hiller for starts.

Who is Viktor Fasth?

Fasth plays a hybrid butterfly-standup style and is a fiery competitor. He's coming off back-to-back Honken Trophy awards as the Elitserien (SEL) Goalie of the Year. The last time a netminder did that was some guy named Henrik Lundqvist. That's not to say that Fasth will be the next King Henrik, but he does share a few additional attributes with the King including durability, consistency, resiliency, and superior reflexes.

That said, you should temper expectations as he adjusts to the NHL game, different angles on a smaller sheet of ice, a new system, and a whole new cast of players in front of him.

Working in his favor, virtually no shooters have a "book" on him yet. And Fasth is mature--having played 5 years in the professional ranks in Sweden--he is just now entering his prime.

As the #1 goaltender in Sweden, Fasth has been coveted by several NHL for quite some time now. After Jonas Hiller started a league-high 73 games in 2011-12, and faded down the stretch due to overwork, it became obvious that Anaheim needed an upgrade between the pipes. The Ducks aggressively signed him to a one-way, one-year deal last May.

Regarding workload, it sounds like Fasth may play anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the games--more if he proves to be a particularly stout option or if Hiller's sidelined with injury.

From a fantasy perspective...

In redrafts he's an outstanding third goalie with upside, and makes an excellent "pair trade" with Hiller--if you already own one or the other--try to acquire both.

In keeper and dynasty leagues, he's a must-add.

And, somewhat remarkably, Fasth is currently available in 99% of ESPN leagues.

Here are Fasth's #s over the past few seasons (GP, GAA, Save%):

2010-11 AIK Elitserien 42 2.26 .925 | Playoffs 8 1.78 .945
Sweden WC 7 1.71 .946 |
Sweden (all) International 11 1.67 .945 |

2011-12 AIK Elitserien 46 2.04 .934 | Playoffs 12 2.79 .921
Sweden EHT EHT 4 1.25 .950 |
Sweden WC 6 2.34 .902 |
Sweden (all) International 13 2.18 .912 |

2012-13 Tingsryd [NHL Lockout] Allsvenskan 12 1.68 .942