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Ducks' Dostal Primed for Expanded Role in 2024-25 – Hockey Writers – Ducks Goaltending

Lukas Dostal showed a lot of positives in his first full season in the NHL ranks during the 2023-24 campaign. He earned a backup role during training camp and eventually became the primary starter for the Anaheim Ducks in the latter part of the season. Dostal's performance at the 2024 IIHF World Championship in Czechia showed his readiness for an expanded role with the Ducks in 2024-25.

The Ducks Plan to Go with the Hot Hand

When the dust settled after another tumultuous season for the Ducks, general manager Pat Verbeek and head coach Greg Cronin met with the media to discuss 2023-24 and what's next for the organization. The topic of scoring inevitably came up, and Verbeek made it clear that it would be a battle for playing time between Dostal and John Gibson. “Eventually, I think we will get to a stage where we have to win hockey games and there will be competition. “It's a situation where whoever plays better can hit the net,” said Verbeek. “We are close to that place right now.

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The Ducks had already embraced that philosophy before the end of the 2023-24 season, as Dostal appeared to gain momentum as the team's starter. He played in 17 of the last 23 contests, and Gibson was between the pipes just seven times in the final two months of the regular season. Dostal went 6-8-2 in that span with a .909 save percentage (SV%) and one shutout. During that time, Gibson posted a record of 0-7-0 while allowing 38 goals on 232 shots. “Obviously, Dostal has played a lot of games, probably more than I thought when he got here, but I think we're in a good place now,” Verbeek said. “We have two strikers who can play equally well and now it will be like that, I think it is a very good thing in the sense that there is competition between the players, and that will bring out the best in everyone and in our team.

Dostal Stands Out in World Championship

Dostal took a significant step forward in his development when he backstopped Czechia to a gold medal at the World Championships in May. The 23-year-old netminder earned a number of starters as he was named Best Goaltender and earned a spot on the Media All-Star team. Dostal compiled a 6-2 record with three shutouts, a 1.58 goals against average (GAA) and a .939 SV% in the contest. He led all goals in shutouts, shared wins, and ranked second in GAA and SV%. In the elimination round, he made 36 saves in a 1-0 shutout of the United States in the quarterfinals before stopping 37 of 40 shots in a 7-3 victory over Sweden in the semifinals and shutting out Switzerland by 31 stops for the gold medal. the game.

Lukas Dostal, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“His record speaks for itself. But he was good,” said defender Radko Gudas, who was a member of Team Czechia. “He entered the NHL last year and never looked back. You are a man in the right place. At his age, he is calm. He gives us the confidence to be able to play and make those plays in front of him. It's an incredible feeling to have him as a partner in Anaheim, and it's great to be together as world champions.”

What Does Dostal's Emergence Mean for Gibson?

Gibson played well early in 2023-24 before fading as the season wore on. His future in the team will also be in doubt, especially if Dostal is able to handle the job of number 1. Gibson indicated that it would be difficult for the Ducks to trade despite the continued rumors. Questions about his health and his $6.4 billion net worth through 2026-27 may have scared off many potential suitors. The issue of salary retention has been difficult for the Ducks and other teams to navigate.

It is possible that the Ducks were also reluctant to pull the strings because there was no successor waiting to take over. If he stays on track and continues to improve, Dostal could change that and speed up the trade process because Gibson will be too expensive to continue as a backup. Because of this, it will be interesting to see how the raiding situation unfolds in early 2024-25 and how much momentum Dostal can make.

Dostal is Ready to Take the Next Step

Expectations will need to be lowered. Dostal shouldn't be portrayed as a savior just yet, but like the other young members of the Ducks' core, he has a lot of upside. Being a regular beginner isn't easy, and staying consistent is something even proven veterans struggle with from time to time. However, he showed flashes of his potential in the 2023-24 season and proved himself at the World Championship.

In a high-pressure international arena in front of a raucous home crowd, he delivered his best performances of the tournament, which is a very encouraging sign. He should enter training camp full of confidence, and he will get every opportunity to prove himself as the team's best player at the crease.

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