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Past Fantasy Outlooks
The Flames have their own three-headed monster in net, as Hiller, Karri Ramo, and Joni Ortio are all on one-way deals. Hiller and Ramo toiled together in 2014-15, with Hiller getting the majority of the starts along with three playoff wins. But Ramo won two in the postseason, and the duo will go into camp in a dead heat for the top gig. Neither goalie is perfect, but they combined last season to finish in the middle of the pack in five-on-five play. Hiller's larger body of work makes him the favorite to emerge as the opening night starter, but it won’t take time for him to lose his hold on the job with a poor run of starts. The likelihood that he'll cede starting duties to Ramo or Ortio at some point in 2015-16 provides a built-in downgrade to drafting HIller, despite his presence on a young team on the rise. It's possible the Flames engineer a trade at some point to clear up the logjam in net, but it’s not likely that Hiller would start on a better team.
Hiller had a solid regular season for the Ducks in 2013-14, amassing a 29-13-7 record to accompany his 2.48 goals against average. But after a second-half swoon, Hiller was replaced by Frederik Andersen and John Gibson in the playoffs, with Anaheim ultimately moving on from Hiller in the offseason. If he can recapture his first-half form, Hiller won't have much trouble taking the No. 1 goalie spot in Calgary. He will, however, have to beat out Karri Ramo, whose game improved significantly in the last couple months of the past season. Hiller is more likely to get the No. 1 spot, although he will likely assume something of a timeshare with Ramo toward the beginning of the season. Still, being a No. 1 goalie in Calgary is a tough gig, so his numbers will reflect that.
Hiller finished with solid numbers in 2012-13, but it was sketchy early on when Euro-sensation Viktor Fasth outplayed him, sending the incumbent to the pine. He's heading into a contract year and will be highly motivated by the February re-signing of Fasth, who will continue to push him for playing time. The southpaw will want to prove he's a top-10 netminder again. It's possible, but you'd better handcuff the two quackers together, just in case.
The good news? Hiller played a full season without vertigo. The bad news? Hiller played almost a full season in net last year -- he started a whopping 73 games for the underachieving Ducks and it affected his stats. The underachieving part is important to note -- his teammates cannot possibly be as bad as they were last season, so expect an uptick in his deliverables. They improve and he improves. And Victor Fasth's arrival from Sweden should give the team an opportunity to give Hiller a bit more rest. Will Hiller deliver top-10 numbers across the board? Probably not. But top-15 is possible and that's good enough to give most fantasy owners a solid foundation for their season.
Hiller posted a 26-16-3 stat line in 49 games played (46 starts) for the Ducks last season while carrying a 2.56 GAA and a career-best .924 save percentage. Health is a major factor for Hiller entering the 2011-12 campaign as he has been dealing with vertigo and it remains to be seen if he can completely shake the symptoms. At press time, the reports have Hiller returning 100 percent healthy, however, it would be wise to temper expectations until more is known. If he proves that he's symptom-free during camp, Hiller could be a nice mid-round value given the quality of the club skating in front of him.
There is no longer any doubt in Anaheim that Hiller will be the number one goaltender. He has certainly earned that spot. During the last three seasons, he recorded save percentages of .927, .919, and .918. The Ducks will need that type of performance this year as there are sill question marks within the team defense that last year forced him to face 33.4 shots a night. In addition, his backup goaltender is not the same caliber as a Jean-Sebastian Giguere, so he will need to do the heavy lifting to get his team back into contention. The potential is certainly there for him to put up All-Star numbers and to give his team a chance to win every night.
Where would the Ducks have been without Hiller last season? Starting goaltender J. S. Giguere was just never able to find a rhythm and Hiller came along and took the starting job and may not be giving it back. Hiller excelled in the playoffs against Detroit and San Jose almost leading Anaheim to the Western Conference finals. If Hiller can show this form again, it could lead to Anaheim trading Giguere to provide space under the cap. If Giguere is not traded than it is hard to see Hiller playing more than 50 games as Giguere would not be given up on by the organization.
Hiller played in just 23 games last season, but flashed potential No. 1 goaltender ability with a 2.06 GAA and a .927 save percentage after replacing Ilya Bryzgalov. Hiller won't supplant J.S Giguere as the top goalie in Anaheim, but if he ever gets an opportunity he is someone you can probably get late in your draft with plenty of upside. His talent warrants consideration for your roster as an end-game option, as does the strength of the team skating in front of him when he does get the chance to suit up. Look for him to receive something along the lines of 20-25 starts if Giguere stays healthy.