the north face womens Calgary Flames goaltending vision finally taking shape
In the last five years, essentially defined as the post Miikka Kiprusoff era in this city, the Calgary Flames goaltending depth chart has been a revolving door rather than an escalator.
Granted, a goaltender progression to the National Hockey League is never linear.
Heck the path to the NHL for most players can be unpredictable. And sometimes, the best laid plans even if just for a short term never work out exactly as a general manager envisions when plotting the plan of attack during the off season.
Exploring Calgary timeline of netminders since the 2013 lockout season proves that. Before 2017 18, 12 different goaltenders had played for the Flames since Kiprusoff arguably the best goaltender in franchise history sailed off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. Those names, to jog your memory, are: Joey MacDonald, Danny Taylor, Leland Irving, Reto Berra, Karri Ramo, Joni Ortio, Jonas Hiller, Niklas Backstrom, Brian Elliott, Chad Johnson, David Rittich and Jon Gillies. Keep in mind, these decisions were spread between three general managers: Jay Feaster, Brian Burke and Brad Treliving. 9, 2017.
Mike Smith is proving to be every bit the goaltender Treliving traded for, a nice surprise as the 35 year old former Arizona Coyotes star was sitting among the top 10 netminders who have won 20 games or more heading into the Flames five day CBA mandated bye week.
Smith has played 38 games, going 20 13 3, which is also among the most heavily utilized netminders in the NHL. Kings and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.
But the Flames brought in Eddie Lack during the off season as a potential back up, given that he played some NHL games and could, potentially, spell off Smith. It became clear early on that Lack wasn as dependable as they originally thought (and needed more live bullets), so the team put him on waivers Nov. 23. The Flames sent him to play with the American Hockey League Stockton Heat and eventually traded him to the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 30.
Backup goalie Eddie Lack was traded to New Jersey Devils on Dec. 30.
don know if it changed, said Treliving, when asked about his club goaltending landscape as of Jan. 14. brought Eddie in during the summer and wanted to be careful of rushing everyone We got into the season, and Eddie didn get to play. But it was over that two month period that the guys in Stockton were ready. They were ready for an opportunity.
felt we could move Eddie along, and it allows us to give David a chance and a lot of reps for Jon. of course, is Rittich, the 25 year old Czech netminder who was a wildcard in 2016 17 when the Flames signed him to a one year deal, his first season in North America. Originally brought in as competition for Jon Gillies, the heir apparent to the throne in Calgary, Rittich is now Smith back up.
Able to mentally handle the back up role in stride, Rittich has played six games this season and has a 4 1 0 record. One of those victories was a 41 save effort, a 4 2 win over the host Florida Panthers on the second half of a back to back which helped extend the Flames current win streak.
David Rittich makes a save on a shot by Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov on Jan. 12.
played well, Treliving said of Rittich. thought he was a good goalie. You never know until you get here. But the other part to that position what people don understand is they have to have the right make up. When you play as a back up to Mike Smith, you going into tough situations. You not getting a rested team (in front of you). You playing in back to backs and, sometimes, on the road. You have to have the ability but also the mental makeup to handle it. David got it. We think highly of David. wait wasn Gillies was projected to be guy? The 75th overall back in the 2012 NHL draft, the 6 foot 6, 223 pounder who starred with the NCAA Providence Friars from 2012 15 before joining the AHL Heat in 2015 16?
He played seven games that year before undergoing hip surgery in what was supposed to be his first full season of professional hockey. Then, last year, he was challenged by Rittich in Stockton and finished with an 18 14 1 with a 2.93 goals against average and a .910 save percentage.
Heading into Wednesday game against the San Jose Barracuda, Gillies was 11 8 2 with a .921 save percentage and a 2.43 goals against average.
Flames management feels that Jon Gillies could use more time in the AHL.
Clearly the Flames management believe that Rittich is a little more suited for prime time (at the moment), while Gillies, who played one game for the Flames in November when Smith was injured and Lack had allowed five goals on 15 shots, could benefit from a few more regular appearances in the AHL.
Remember that linear pattern? Doesn always happen.
wants everyone to get to the NHL really quick, said Treliving, who also has Mason McDonald, the second round pick (34th overall) of the 2014 draft now toiling with the ECHL Kansas City Mavericks. not that easy, especially for goaltenders. We knew that, on our reserve list, we have some depth there, and we think those guys have a chance to be good goaltenders. You look at David, you look at Jon Gillies, and down the line It just a matter of when you think they ready.
But wait what about Tyler Parsons, the Flames 54th overall draft pick in 2016? Isn he supposed to be guy, too?
The 20 year old story is interesting, too, as he began this year with the ECHL Mavericks and, after the Flames traded Lack to the Devils, a spot opened for him with the Heat.
His first AHL game wasn entirely indicative of the final score, as Parsons kept the Heat afloat early in the game but wound up losing 7 2 as Parsons faced 40 shots.
Competition will no doubt exist between the two Heat goalies, but Treliving has no plans to rush either netminder up to the NHL.
just hold on let let them develop on their own time, Treliving said. don want to rush things. I like where we trending. We think it starting to set up. But we see. It takes time. You look at guys that have had a year or two or three down there and it doesn hurt them, especially at that position.