Back on August 20th, the Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Mark Fistric to a 1 year contract worth $900,000. At the time, I didn't think much of it. I didn't know much about Fistric other than he used his body effectively but wasn't a great skater. With Sheldon Souray sidelined until December or January, it was clear that the Ducks needed some help on the backend. Today, Souray is still out, and won't play a game this season, and the Ducks have given Fistric a 3 year extension worth $3.8 million.
When the season started, Souray and Luca Sbisa were both out and Francoius Beachemin was playing but recovering from his knee surgery. The Ducks defense was banged up, and it looked like a perfect opportunity for Fistric to break into the Ducks lineup. And while he did play in the Ducks 1st game, he only suited up for 3 games in October for the Ducks, and 5 more in November. But as the Ducks blueline kept getting banged up (Beauchemin missed time, Bryan Allen missed time, Sbisa came back and then got injured again), Fistric was given more of a chance. In December he played in 8 games, and so far in January he has played in 10 of the Ducks 13 games.
Fistric is the perfect 6th/7th defenseman for the Ducks. He doesn't play in every game, but he is always ready to play in every game. He plays a simple, physical game and plays it well. He is never going to put up a ton of points, but he is still a lot of fun to watch. He is great at planting opposing players into the boards and onto the ice. So far this season, he has played in 27 games and has 1 goal and 5 points, has a +8 rating and is 2nd on the team with 123 hits. From his numbers, it's pretty clear what he brings to the Ducks, and it's not offense, it's hitting and physical play, and he does that very well.
$3.8 million over 3 years is a good price for a player who isn't going to see a ton of ice time with the Ducks, but will still be a valuable contributor. With his play over the last 2 months he has earned the trust of Boudreau and I expect to see him in the lineup more often than not. At worst, he has forced Boudreau to rotate him into the lineup on a consistent basis. I'm not a big fan of the 3 year term, I think that's a little long for a player like Fistric, but it is nice to have the so much of the Ducks defense signed for the next few seasons, and the price gives the Ducks enough flexibility to make moves in the future to keep improving the team.