Over the years there have been many elite goaltenders that have been the focus of the modern day NHL. Some names that may come to mind are the illustrious Martin Brodeur, the fan favourite Carey Price and the previously overlooked Braden Holtby. But how can we define “underrated”? Sure, there are many goalies that are continuously overlooked that are not only skilled, but also are great characters in the locker room, however underrated always seemed to catch my eye. I could name several goalies that I believe are underrated, however this post will focus on one of them; Viktor Fasth.
Born in Kalix, Sweden, a municipality located in Northern Sweden relatively close to the Finnish border, Fasth was born in a country where the sport of hockey is deeply rooted in their culture. Growing up in Vänersborg (located in Southern Sweden) he quickly fell in love with the game. Having began his professional career rather late, according to some, he nonetheless continues to prove why he made it to the NHL. His skill level and passion combine for one threatening opponent. He entered the NHL in the 2012-2013 season playing for the Anaheim Ducks. Having played in 25 games, Fasth posted a record of 15 wins, 6 losses and 2 overtime OR shootout losses. He also posted a 2.18 goals against average (GAA) and a .921 save percentage (SV%). Depending on who you are and how patient you are, those are slightly better than average numbers – with regards to GAA and SV%. During that season, the Anaheim Ducks qualified for the playoffs but were bounced out by the Detroit Red Wings in seven games, with Fasth not having played in any of them.
The following year, Fasth was injured early in the season. With Jonas Hiller (while playing with them) and Frederik Andersen receiving the top two jobs, in early March, Fasth was dealt by the Ducks to the oh so popular Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a fifth and a third round pick in the 2014 and 2015 NHL Entry Draft respectively. This gave him the opportunity to really show what he is capable of. With the Oilers net up for grabs, Viktor had to show his coach (at the time) Dallas Eakins that he was ready for a starting role. Having battled with Ben Scrivens for the job, he was once again overlooked and the opportunity was given to Scrivens more than it was to Fasth. Unfortunately, this was Fasth learning and slowly accepting the Oilers’ struggles. During one of his starts, he fell victim to what many have referred to as “left to dry” during a game against his former team the Anaheim Ducks. This game, which took place on December 12th 2014, was the beginning of the end for Fasth in Edmonton. After two goals were scored by the Ducks to open the second period, one at the seven second mark and the other at the fifty second mark, Fasth was pulled having allowed three goals. Once on the bench, he laid into his teammates, letting them know how frustrated he was and continues to be when the Oilers cannot produce any offence on a consistent basis. Following the game, he was interviewed and he acknowledged that he has to make saves, he is not playing the “blame game” however he wants his teammates to know where he stands. A true competitor, he stated several times that he needs to make saves, whether basic or clutch saves. He took the burden but not without letting the Oilers know where he is coming from and where he stands.
Unfortunately, Viktor Fasth took his talents to Russia and is now playing for HC CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) where he is seeing not only an increase in playing time but also an increase in wins. I believe many NHL teams missed out on acquiring a goalie that can provide a team with so much; passion, support and competitiveness to name a few.
To finish this article, in my opinion, Viktor Fasth was never given his chance to shine during his time in the NHL and yes of course, he is underrated. For those who enjoyed him in the NHL, myself included, it is nice to hear all the success he has found in the KHL and hopefully he can continue to raise eyebrows and receive the support he should have always gotten. If only he could make a return to the NHL and prove himself once again.
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