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Monday, February 22, 2016

Goaltending Five-Year Plan - Part 2: Review of Available Avenues, Potential Candidates

On Saturday in part 1 of my two-part feature on what the future holds for the Flames goaltending, I examined what the organization's five-year plan in net might look like.

In doing so, I took inventory of what Calgary has in the system today for personnel and how quickly the likes of Jon Gillies, Mason McDonald and Nick Schneider might advance from ECHL to AHL to NHL.

By going through this gap analysis, we learned that the Flames are in need of two NHL-calibre goalies for the next two seasons at least. Further, it would be smart planning if one of those goalies is around at least three seasons to be there through the transition to Gillies as the starter.

Now that we know what is needed, who does Brad Treliving bring in to address these needs? That is today's topic. In a primer to what's out there on the goalie market -- advertised or not-advertised -- and a peek at whom the Flames GM might be inquiring about, I have compiled a comprehensive list of goaltender possibilities for Calgary for 2016-17.

Whether all of these players are actually available, that's hard to say, but you'll never know if you don't inquire. Besides, isn't everyone available for the right price?


Constructing a Tandem

As I see it, there are three strategic approaches the Flames could take with their goalies next season. The route they choose may end up a reflection what's available personnel-wise and the price they're prepared to pay:
  • 80/20 Split - I call this the Miikka Kiprusoff model. Bring in a bona fide No. 1 and give him 65 games. Complement him with a cheap back-up.
  • 60/40 Split - Bring in an established goalie as the starter -- perhaps someone on the back nine of his career, then also bring in an up-and-comer that could push him for that starting job.
  • 50/50 Split - This is the 1a/1b approach. Bring in a pair of goaltenders with No. 1 potential, who both have something to prove, then let them duke it out in a 'win and stay in' approach. 

Hang on, I missed one.

The fourth option, of course, is the glorious three-headed monster approach where you bring in three goaltenders and have them all grumpy about playing time. You'll remember from October how well that worked. God willing, surely we won't have to persevere a repeat of that anytime soon.


Five Categories of Candidates

Just like different types of lumber are found in different aisles at Home Depot, if there was a Goaltender Superstore that NHL general managers would go shopping at when in need of new supplies, there would be four main aisles with each containing different types of goalies:
  • Unrestricted free agents 
  • Demoted veterans
  • Young NHL back-ups looking to be a starter
  • Young AHL starters looking to get to the NHL

In addition, there would be a miscellaneous aisle that is a catch-all of other available goalies in unique situations different from above:
  • Wild Cards

So with that as the breakdown, settle in and let's look at my arbitrary list of the top five options in each of these five buckets.


A. Pending UFAs

These are goalies on expiring contracts that are headed for free agency on July 1, 2016.


1. James Reimer, Maple Leafs

Age - 27 (born March 15, 1988)
Specs - 6-foot-2, 208 lbs
Drafted - 4th round (99th) in 2006
Contract - Second year of 2Y/$4.6M deal ($2.3M AAV)
Team - Toronto, 6th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 31 gm, 11-11-7, 2.47 GAA, .919 SV%

The 411 - In a relatively-weak UFA class this summer, Reimer is considered the best of the lot. In his time with Toronto and we're not talking about very good teams playing in front of him, the former Red Deer Rebel has posted save percentages in the .920's twice. That's pretty good. This year he's in that same vicinity and that Leafs line-up is all kinds of awful. The big question is how crazy will the bidding war get on July 1? While three years term for Calgary would be ideal, if they have to go four to sign him, it's something to consider. That said, I can see the requested term and the annual salary both being more the Flames are prepared to offer.


2. Karri Ramo, Flames

Age - 29 (born July 1, 1986)
Specs - 6-foot-2, 206 lbs
Drafted - 6th round (191st) by Tampa Bay in 2004
Contract - On a 1Y/$3.8M deal
Team - Calgary, 5th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 37 gm, 17-18-1, 2.63 GAA, .909 SV%

The 411 - Ramo gave the Flames consistent goaltending for three months starting in November, until he suffered his season-ending torn ACL. While I'd put the odds at around 25 percent, it wouldn't surprise me if Ramo returned to the organization. He was in a real nice groove when he got hurt and given his injury, the offers from other organizations may be minimal. The one thing I don't do as the Flames is bring back Ramo after major surgery to be the No. 1. Instead, he becomes a back No. 2 option after you've pursued others that you maybe more interested in. That 6-8 month recovery timeline from his surgery is concerning..


3. Antti Raanta, Rangers

Age - 26 (born May 12, 1989)
Specs - 6-foot-0, 193 lbs
Drafted - N/A
Contract - Final year of 2Y/$1.5M deal ($750K AAV)
Team - NY Rangers, 3rd NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 13 gm, 5-4-2, 2.53 GAA, .907 SV%

The 411 - Raanta came over to North America after a couple of impressive seasons in Finland. He spent two seasons backing up Corey Crawford in Chicago before Scott Darling muscled his way into the picture and eventually forced Raanta out. This year he's backing up Henrik Lundqvist. Do you see the pattern? He has played well in a back-up role and has earned his shot at more playing time. Will he be offered a starting gig somewhere? I don't see that happening but on a two-year deal, maybe he's the low-man in the aforementioned 60/40 split... or 65/35 anyway.


4. Jhonas Enroth, Kings

Age - 27 (born June 25, 1988)
Specs - 5-foot-10, 171 lbs
Drafted - 2nd round (46th) in 2006 by Buffalo
Contract - On a 1Y/$1.25M deal
Team - Los Angeles, 6th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 12 gm, 4-5-1, 2.19 GAA, .926 SV%

The 411 - Enroth is a conventional size for an NHL goalie if this was 1986 but by today's standards, he's small. However, he's been pretty good. After mostly being the back-up to Ryan Miller in Buffalo, Enroth is again in a back-up role with the Kings this season but is having the type of year in which he's showing maybe he could be a No.1 in the right environment. He's certainly at the right age. However, not sure I give him any more responsibility than half of a 50/50 share of the crease..


5. Cam Ward, Hurricanes

Age - 31 (born Feb. 29, 1984)
Specs - 6-foot-1, 185 lbs
Drafted - 1st round (25th) in 2002 by Carolina
Contract - Pending UFA, final year of 6Y/$37.8M deal ($6.3M AAV)
Team - Carolina, 11th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 38 gm, 17-12-4, 2.36 GAA, .907 SV%

The 411 - Ward's name has been a popular one because he used to be really good and he can probably be had at reasonable price. However, the concern is the indications are that the veteran that has lost a step, perhaps even many steps depending on who you ask. That said, could the Saskatoon native, who had four prolific seasons in the WHL with Red Deer (three trips to league final, winning once), rejuvenate his career back in Alberta? I wouldn't give him the starter's job but he could be a nice mentor-like complement to a younger prospect that is on the rise.


Other Notables - Anders Lindback Ari, Jeff Zatkoff Pit, Carter Hutton Nsh, Anton Khudobin Ana, Alex Stalock SJ


B. Demoted Veterans

These are goalies that used to play a lot more than they are now because a young prospect has come along and taken over the starting gig.


1. Frederik Andersen, Ducks

Age - 26 (born Oct. 2, 1989)
Specs - 6-foot-4, 220 lbs
Drafted - 3rd round (87th) by Anaheim in 2012
Contract - Pending RFA, final year of 2Y/$2.3M deal ($1.15M AAV)
Team - Anaheim, 3rd NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 32 gm, 14-8-3, 2.39 GAA, .917 SV%

The 411 - The native of Denmark came over to North America in 2012, fresh off a scintillating season in Sweden where he posted a 1.67 GAA and .941 SV% in 39 games. After a superb season in Norfolk (.929 SV%), Andersen was off to the NHL where he was Jonas Hiller's back-up in his rookie season. While inconsistent at times, he would still be the No. 1 with the Ducks if not for the emergence of hotshot prospect John Gibson. While a nice complement to Gibson, Andersen is a RFA at season's end and may want more money and more opportunity than the Ducks are willing to offer. Instead, it would not surprise to see Anaheim shop Andersen and try to look for help elsewhere on their team and Calgary should be on the phone when they do.


2. Brian Elliott, Blues

Age - 30 (born April 9, 1985)
Specs - 6-foot-2, 209 lbs
Drafted - 9th round (291st) in 2003
Contract - Second year of 3Y/$7.5M deal ($2.5M AAV)
Team - St. Louis, 8th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 32 gm, 17-17-2, 2.06 GAA, .931 SV%

The 411 - Elliott is a UFA after next season but rather than wait another year, those interested in Elliott's services will want to get in on him this summer now that Jake Allen has seemingly taken over the Blues starting job. With St. Louis also having a couple back-up goalie options coming along nicely in their system in Phoenix Copley and Jordan Binnington, Elliott could become available this summer. While no stand-out in his four years with Ottawa, he's really come along nicely the last few years with St. Louis. Are his numbers by-product of the Blues tremendous defence or can he backstop a less-talented team to success? I suspect we'll find out soon enough. With one year left on his deal, he could be a guy that is traded somewhere and if he gets off to a good start, is offered an extension.


3. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets

Age - 28 (born Aug. 31, 1987)
Specs - 6-foot-3, 215 lbs
Drafted - 2nd round (41st) in 2005
Contract - Fourth year of 5Y/$19.5M deal ($3.9M AAV)
Team - Winnipeg, 9th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 18 gm, 6-7-1, 2.77 GAA, .905 SV

The 411 - Pavelec's career numbers won't blow you away but he also has not been afforded the chance to play on very good teams. In the same organization his whole career, he broke in in Atlanta, playing parts of four seasons with the Thrashers. At this point, I'm wouldn't trust him to be your No. 1 but as the back-up in a 60/40 split or maybe a share of a 1a/1b, that would work better. and 1b and that works better. It is the emergence of Connor Hellbuyck that was been a game changer with the Jets. One thing that is attractive with Pavelec is he has just one year left on his deal. What I see unfolding for some NHL team is bring him in, playing him regularly, see what he's got, and then decide whether you want to re-sign him or let him go.


4. Mike Smith, Coyotes

Age - 33 (born Mar. 22, 1982)
Specs - 6-foot-4, 215 lbs
Drafted - 5th round (161st) by Dallas in 2001
Contract - Third year of 6Y/$34M deal ($5.67M  AAV)
Team - Arizona, 10th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 22 gm, 10-9-1, 3.06 GAA, .901 SV%

The 411 - Arizona has been a nice story this season but when they're ready to be a legit contender in the West, Smith's contract will be over. In fact, they're probably more than happy to start the transition to Louis Domingue right away. Because it's Arizona, a factor to consider is Treliving's familiarity with Smith from his time with the Coyotes. If the Flames can secure a young emerging star for one of their goalies, Smith wouldn't be a bad complementary piece as you're getting experience and leadership. However, you'd need the Coyotes to retain a chunk of his annual salary,


5. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings

Age - 31 (born Mar. 26, 1984)
Specs - 6-foot-1, 218 lbs
Drafted - 2nd round (64th) in 2003 by Detroit
Contract - Third year of 6Y/$31.7M deal ($5.3M  AAV)
Team - Detroit, 7th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 23 gm, 7-9-3, 2.82 GAA, .906 SV%

The 411 - The Emergence of Petr Mrazek has made Howard expendable in Detroit, especially in a season where the Red Wings could miss the playoffs. One issue with Howard is there's a ton of money and term left on his contract. The second issue is he's a goalie that statistics would suggest is on the steady decline. His .923 SV% from three years seems like an eternity ago. To take him off their hands, the Red Wings would have to retain a big chunk of money and only then should Calgary consider the possibility.


Other Notables - Kari Lehtonen Dal, Antti Niemi Dal,



C. Young NHL Back-Ups Ready to Start

These are the guys to really pay attention to. They are stuck behind very good No. 1 goalies so see limited playing time but have shown flashes that suggest they could be very good if given the opportunity for a bigger role.


1. Darcy Kuemper, Wild

Age - 25 (born May 5, 1990)
Specs - 6-foot-5, 212 lbs
Drafted - 6th round (161st) in 2009 by Minnesota
Contract - Pending RFA, final year of 2Y/$2.5M deal ($1.25M AAV)
Team - Minnesota, 4th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 16 gm, 6-3-5, 2.26 GAA, .920 SV%

The 411 - It wasn't long ago that Darcy Kuemper came on the scene and was touted as Minnesota's goalie of the future. But then he struggled last year, Devan Dubnyk came along and turned last season's amazing body of work into a long-term deal. Relegated to being the back-up now, Kuemper is someone that could be the Martin Jones of next season for whichever team is able to pry him free from the Wild. The potential is definitely there and it's encouraging is he's bounced back nicely. His age is also an attraction.
.

2. Scott Darling, Blackhawks

Age - 27 (born Dec. 22, 1988)
Specs - 6-foot-6, 232 lbs
Drafted - 6th round (153rd) in 2007 by Phoenix
Contract - First year of 2Y/$1.175M deal ($587K AAV)
Team - Chicago, 2nd NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 16 gm, 6-3-5, 2.26 GAA, .920 SV%

The 411 - An ideal tandem partner for Corey Crawford in Chicago as the Blackhawks prepare to go on a long Cup run. But this summer, with Crawford locked up long term, expect teams to try and get Darling out of Chicago. He would be a UFA after next season so it would a matter of the bidding starting earlier than the trade deadline.


3. Calvin Pickard, Avalanche

Age - 23 (born Apr. 15, 1992)
Specs - 6-foot-1, 200 lbs
Drafted - 2nd round (49th) in 2010 by Colorado
Contract - Pending RFA, on 1Y/$850K two-way deal ($67K in AHL)
Team - Colorado, 2nd NHL season
2015-16 Stats -13 gm, 4-3-1, 2.67 GAA, .918 SV%

The 411 - In his fourth pro season, we're at the point where the only reason Pickard is still spending some time in the minors is the lack of a roster spot for him with Colorado committed to Semyon Varlamov and Reto Berra. With the Avs seemingly content with what they're getting from Berra in a back-up role and with the ex-Flame under contract for another season, what might it take to pluck Pickard off the hands of GM Joe Sakic, who co-incidentally was at the Flames-Canucks game on Friday in person. Avs have prospect Sami Aittokallio, 22, playing in Finland at the moment and his presence may make it easier for Colorado to part with Pickard.


4. Michael Hutchinson, Jets

Age - 25 (born March 2, 1990)
Specs - 6-foot-3, 202 lbs
Drafted - 3rd round (77th) in 2008 by Boston
Contract - Pending RFA, final year of 2Y/$1.15M deal ($575K AAV)
Team - Winnipeg, 2nd NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 21 gm, 6-11-0, 2.88 GAA, .908 SV%

The 411 - The Jets are a fertile ground for goaltender prospects given Connor Hellebuyck looks like he will assume the Jets No. 1 job soon and they also have promising 2013 second rounder Eric Comrie in the pipeline as well. As a result, it seems inevitable that Hutchinson will move on at some point. Hutchinson's body of work in the NHL is up to 62 games and while he has looked very good at times -- he's posted a pair of shutouts, he's also struggled at times also. He should come affordable though and could be a worthwhile investment.


5. Phillip Grubauer, Capitals

Age - 24 (born Nov 25, 1991)
Specs - 6-foot-1, 182 lbs
Drafted - 4th round (112th) in 2010
Contract - Pending RFA, final year of 2Y/$1.125M deal ($562K AAV)
Team - Washington, 2nd NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 14 gm, 6-4-1, 2.13 GAA, .925 SV%.

The 411 - The German played very well during his four seasons in the minors, which has enabled him to work his way up to the NHL where in his rookie season, he's caddying for workhorse Brandon Holtby on that very good Washington Capitals team. Given Holtby will remain the man for Washington for a very long time, Grubauer is someone that could be lured out of Washington eventually. Whether they're prepared to part with him as soon as this summer, that remains to be seen, but should he continue to play at the high level he has in the NHL, he'll be quite an asset the Capitals.


Other Notables - Keith Kinkaid NJ, Mike Condon Mtl



D. AHL Starters Looking to Get to the NHL

Promising goalies that have excelled in the minors and appear ready for a chance to break through at the NHL level but maybe victim of the numbers game in their organization.


1. Matt Murray, Penguins

Age - 21 (born May 25, 1994)
Specs - 6-foot-4, 178 lbs
Drafted - 3rd round (83rd) in 2012 by Pittsburgh
Contract - Second year of 3Y/$2.78M deal ($894K AAV)
Team - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 2nd AHL season
2015-16 Stats - 30 gm, 19-9-1, 2.11 GAA, .931 SV%

The 411 - Murray has been phenomenal in the AHL. After leading the circuit with a .941 save percentage as a rookie last season, he's second this season at .931. With a job expected to open up on the NHL roster next season with current back-up Jeff Zatkoff a pending UFA, the Penguins would be happy to have Murray on their roster. But with Marc-Andre Fleury under contract for three more years and with 2013 second rounder Tristan Jarry also in the system, Murray will be courted heavily. On the weekend, Elliott Friedman reported Calgary had, indeed inquired, but were rebuffed. At least for now.


2. J-F Berube, Islanders

Age - 24 (born July 13, 1991)
Specs - 6-foot-1, 175 lbs
Drafted - 4th round (95th) in 2009
Contract - Pending RFA, final year of 2Y/$1.125M deal ($562K AAV)
Team - NY Islanders, 1st NHL season (after four AHL seasons with the Kings)
2015-16 Stats - 3 gm, 1-1-0, .905 SV%.

The 411 - Capped his fourth and best season in the Kings system last year by backstopping Manchester to a Calder Cup. Looked in line to back-up Jonathan Quick when LA signed Enroth. Placed on waivers to start the season, he was claimed by the Islanders. Not wanting to expose him, New York has kept him on their NHL roster all year other than when he was injured for six weeks and went to AHL on a conditioning loan where he went 4-1 with a .960 save percentage. With Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss ahead of him and both with term left, you would think he could be pried free for the right price.


3. Magnus Hellberg, Rangers

Age - 24 (born April 4, 1991)
Specs - 6-foot-5, 185 lbs
Drafted - 2nd round (38th) in 2011 by Nashville
Contract - First year of 2Y/$1.25M deal ($625K NHL AAV, $95K AHL)
Team - Hartford, 4th AHL season
2015-16 Stats - 36 gm, 20-14-2, 2.44 GAA, .916 SV%

The 411 - With Raanta on his way to becoming a UFA, Hellberg should be in line to be the Rangers back-up next season. That said, I doubt New York would have any issue bringing in an experienced No. 2 like they did last year with Raanta. What's clear is Henrik Lundqvist remains entrenched as the No. 1 and he still has five years on his deal. There are other younger options in the system for New York that could be his successor such as 2014 second rounder Brandon Halverson.


4. Anton Forsberg, Blue Jackets

Age - 23 (born Nov. 27, 1992)
Specs - 6-foot-2, 176 lbs
Drafted - 7th round (211th) in 2011 by Columbus
Contract - Pending RFA, final year of 3Y/$2.1M entry-level contract
Team - Lake Erie, 2nd AHL season
2015-16 Stats - 26 gm, 13-8-3, 2.64 GAA, .905 SV%

The 411 - Named an AHL all-star last season, he got into four NHL games this year going 1-3-0 with a .907 save percentage. Passed by Joonas Korpisalo on the Blue Jackets depth chart and with 2012 second rounder Oscar Dansk a future option also to back-up Sergei Bobrovsky, Forsberg could be available.


5. Jeremy Smith, Bruins

Age - 26 (born April 13, 1989)
Specs - 6-foot-1, 170 lbs
Drafted - 2nd round (54th) in 2007 by Nashville
Contract - Pending UFA, on a 1Y/$600K deal ($600K NHL, $150K AHL)
Team - Providence, 7th AHL season
2015-16 Stats - 27 gm, 7-16-3, 2.88 GAA, .910 SV%

The 411 - Looked in line to be the back-up to Tuukka Rask in Boston this season when the Bruins signed free agent Jonas Gustavsson. With top prospects Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre at Providence, Smith was loaned to Iowa this season before returning to Providence recently when Subban got injured. Smith will be a UFA this summer so will be looking for a good situation for himself.


Other Notables - Jordan Binnington, Stl, Zach Fucale Mtl


E. Wild Cards

In addition to the four buckets above, there is a miscellaneous bucket also. These are guys whose circumstances are all rather unique with each of them an intriguing option for different reasons.


1. Ben Bishop, Lightning

Age - 29 (born Nov. 21, 1986)
Specs - 6-foot-7, 216 lbs
Drafted - 3rd round (85th) in 2005
Contract - First year of 2Y/$11.9M deal ($5.95M AAV)
Team - Tampa Bay, 6th NHL season.
2015-16 Stats - 45 gm, 24-17-0, 2.13 GAA, .923 SV%

The 411 - A situation to keep an eye on in Tampa Bay is what happens with Steven Stamkos as Ben Bishop's fate could be tied to him. If the cap-crunched Lightning want to re-sign Stamkos, it might very well mean they will trade away Bishop to open up some cap space. The Lightning can do that because they've got a young star goalie in the making in 21-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy and also have Latvian Kristers Gudlevskis in the minors. Calgary has reportedly shown interest before in Bishop, who was previously with St. Louis and Ottawa. It would be a summer trade and would require giving up a good player or two but it would give the Flames a de facto No. 1 starter.


2. Niklas Svedberg

Age - 26 (born Sept. 4, 1989)
Specs - 6-foot-0, 176 lbs
Drafted - N/A
Contract - Pending UFA, on a one-year deal in KHL
Team - Ufa Salavat Yulayev, 1st KHL season (after two AHL seasons, one NHL season)
2015-16 Stats - 53 gm, 29-19-3, 2.37 GAA, .916 SV%

The 411 - After a couple of solid seasons in the AHL with Providence, Svedberg spent most of last season with Boston and putting up decent numbers in 18 games -- 7-5-1 record with a .918 save percentage. However, he was unhappy with his playing time behind Rask so bolted for the KHL. However, before departing, he said he would be back. As a UFA now, he has the opportunity to come back to the NHL for next season and if he's looking for an opportunity for playing time, Calgary certainly would be an option.


3. Jonathan Bernier, Maple Leafs

Age - 27 (born Aug. 7, 1988)
Specs - 6-foot-0, 185 lbs
Drafted - 1st round (11th) in 2006
Contract - First year of 2Y/$8.3M deal ($4.15M AAV)
Team -  Toronto, 6th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 26 gm, 6-15-2, 3.17 GAA, .895 SV%

The 411 - Bernier looked like a stud prospect for the longest time but things have not worked out in Toronto leaving people wondering if he simply won't be the star everyone expected or if it just won't happen while he's with the Leafs and that a fresh start could get him back on track. With one year remaining on his deal before becoming a UFA next year, I see trading for him and seeing if he can rekindle his game as a worthwhile gamble given his upside. It seems Toronto is prepared to move on from him too so he's available.


4. Al Montoya, Panthers

Age - 31 (born Feb. 13, 1985)
Specs - 6-foot-2, 203 lbs
Drafted - 1st round (6th) in 2004 by NY Rangers
Contract - Pending UFA, final year of 2Y/$2.1M deal ($1.05M AAV)
Team - Florida, 6th NHL season
2015-16 Stats - 17 gm, 9-4-1, 1.91 GAA, .930 SV%

The 411 - With Roberto Luongo under contract until 2022, the Panthers are set for their starter for a long time. As an unrestricted free agent, you'd expect Montoya to look for an opportunity where there's potential to play his way into more playing time and potentially be a starter. What makes Montoya a 'wild card' is his roller-coaster career. He looked like a first round flop for a long time yet in spurts has played really well including two years ago with Winnipeg (13-8-3, .920 SV%) and this year with the Panthers. Would be an interesting guy to roll the dice on for a couple years.


5. Jack Campbell, Dallas

Age - 24 (born Jan. 9, 1992)
Specs - 6-foot-3, 200 lbs
Drafted - 1st round (11th) in 2010 by Dallas
Contract - Pending RFA, on 1Y/$650K two-way deal ($90K in AHL)
Team - Dallas, 4th year in the minors
2015-16 Stats - 12 gm in AHL (3-6-3, 4.27 GAA, .868 SV%), 19 gm in ECHL (13-5-1, 1.62 GAA, .946 SV%)

The 411 - The first goalie selected in 2010, selected out of the U.S. National Team development program, Campbell was expected to be the Stars future No. 1. However, things have gone sideways for him lately and his future has become cloudy. After a dreadful start to this year in the AHL, he was jettisoned to the ECHL. That's the wrong direction to be moving when you've got his kind of pedigree. He's been dynamite in the ECHL so perhaps he's found his game again but one wonders if Dallas is getting close to cutting bait on him given they're set in net with Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, both signed for two more years.


Other Notables - Tuukka Rask Bos or Malcolm Subban Bos


Final Word

As you can see, there are plenty of options for Treliving when it comes to figuring what to do with Calgary’s goaltending for the 2016-17 season. While the UFA class is small and not all that sexy, there are other goalies out there, it's just a matter of finding the right situation and having something to offer that other teams want.

While we may see him start to address his goal crease needs as early as this week with the trade deadline, the off-season is the more likely time he'll get his work done. Many of the goalies that could be on his short list are on playoff contenders and likely wouldn't be available until this season is over.

With the young core of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett at forward and with the nucleus of Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton on defence, finding the right goalies to bring in for the next few seasons is one of the most critical tasks Treliving has faced in his tenure as Flames GM.

Get it right and this team could get be contending for a playoff spot again as early as next year. Get it right and the Flames will have the luxury of breaking in Gillies when he's ready, not when he's needed.

Get it wrong and the losses will mount, the team unravels, the negativity sets in and the harmful, long-lasting impact that inflicts on an organization and its culture is something hockey fans in Alberta should be very familiar with by now.



By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Go there and do so now. It's just another way to be alerted to new Calgary Flames articles that I've written.

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2 comments:

  1. This is the kind of insightful sports journalism hardcore fans crave. Nice work.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. Glad you found it insightful.

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