It would appear Jonas Hiller’s NHL career is over.
After playing seven seasons with the Anaheim Ducks and then two with the Calgary Flames, Hiller is headed back to his home country of Switzerland. He has signed a three-year deal with EHC Biel, and at 34 years old, it’s difficult to see him coming back to North America.
— EHC Biel-Bienne (@ehcbiel) April 19, 2016
Hiller’s time in the NHL appears to be over following a career-worst season in which he posted an unprecedented, for him, .879 save percentage over 26 games. His worst save percentage prior to that was a .910 outing in 2011-12 when he played 73 games for the Ducks.
So yeah, the way this past season turned out was unexpected.
In Hiller’s first year with the Flames, he posted a .918 save percentage through 52 games, and looked to be one of two actual starters Calgary had since Miikka Kiprusoff retired (the other being Karri Ramo, who particularly started getting playing time in 2013-14 once Reto Berra was traded). The average save percentage that season, according to QuantHockey, was .915, so Hiller was at least above average: a key part of the Flames getting back into the playoffs after a five-year drought.
What happened after that was unfortunate. Stuck in a three-goalie system, he looked primed to finally take the starter’s position when he got hurt just seven games into his season. He’d posted two really good games – the only wins the team had at that point – but the rest, like those of other Flames goalies, left a lot to be desired.
His injury had him on the shelf for a month, during which time Ramo had taken over and acclimatized to (mostly) good outings. Hiller had a few upon his return but had trouble maintaining them, or even earning consistent starts at all, and that was that.
So to sum up Hiller’s two-year tenure in Calgary:
- He was above average and a pivotal part in bringing stability to a rebuilding team and getting them back into the playoffs.
- He collapsed and was a pivotal part in showing the Flames that they were not yet ready, and at least they should get a decent draft pick out of it.
Honestly, neither is that bad an outcome. Shame about how it had to end, though.