And then there were nine.
One day after Kent updated us all on what is truly a grim goaltending situation for your Calgary Flames, young Daniel Taylor of Plymouth, a broth of a lad, packed up his pads and shipped off far away overseas.
No, Danny is not joining the British Armed Forces in an ongoing fight for Democracy (or whatever it is they do, I’m horribly ignorant when it comes to worldly matters). Nay, he has, as it turns out, inked himself a deal to go play in the SEL with Färjestad BK.
According to a press release via the team’s website (WARNING: SWEDISH!), Taylor will duke it out with incumbent puckstopper Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel for ALL THE MINUTES next season in Scandinavia. Hilariously, if you translate the page into English, it does make it seem like Danny Taylor is the greatest goalie in the history of the world, who does everything with poise and grace, and that’s pretty adorable. In all seriousness, I’m happy for Danny. He seems like a solid dude, and I’d like to see good things happen for him over in Europe.
Because really, it’s not like those good things were ever going to happen here.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the REAL reason why this is such a glorious opportunity for Danny, as it should be noted that everything Färjestad is (read: pretty damn good at hockey) is because of their superhero boss and former Flames God, Mr. Hakan Looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooobbbbbb. So I guess you could say I’m a little bit jealous.
By now we’re all pretty aware of who Danny Taylor was to the Flames (minus the fact that the above hashtag I created never caught on, which means you’re all monsters), so I won’t go into detail, but I’ll lay out the broader scope of the whole thing:
- We know he was one of two goaltenders inked to pro tryout offers with the Abbottsford Heat, moves made necessary when, uh, Flames-Goalie-Of-The-Future-Leland-Irving (*sigh*) was being peddled back and forth between the Mainland and Calgary because Henrik Karlsson had a pretty good nickname and nothing else.
- We know that when Irving was returned to Abby during the lockout this season, he had lost most of his starting minutes to Taylor and fellow PTO brother Barry Brust (who is the greatest, and I will always say so)
- Taylor, who more or less was the "starting" goalie of the three, had a pretty decent showing with the Heat, putting up a .922 SV% in 40 games, decent numbers considering he was on what amounted to a pretty middling AHL squad who ended up missing the playoffs (d’awww, baby Flames want to be like daddy Flames).
- This was more or less a repeat of the season prior when Irving was testing the limits of his Aeroplan card, as when he was sent back down, it was widely believed Taylor was playing the better hockey at the time, sporting a .927 SV% and earning the role of starter during what was a brief playoff run for the Heat.
- Danny was not terrible, but not exactly "Early Fred Brathwaite" when the Flames signed him on to the big club, when it turned out that Irving and Joey MacDonald, shockingly enough, would not be a viable substitute between the pipes for an ailing Miikka Kiprusoff. (We’ll call his performance "Lemelinesque"). He earned his first career NHL win and had a .912 SV% over those two games, which means nothing to the team, but is likely a pretty big deal to him.
I know there was mild support out there for Taylor to be given more starts while Kiprusoff was in sick bay, and maybe that’s fair, but on this team, this season, it really would not have made much of a difference. This team was cursed. Taylor is also now 7 years into his pro career, in which he has largely been a journeyman in inferior to NHL leagues, so when you look at the catalog of his whole career, it seems unlikely that he would ever broach the minor successes he’s achieved this past season. Earning an NHL win is something most of us never get, and now he’s done it, and hey, maybe that’s enough. He’s likely never destined to ever challenge for the Flames job, and even the role of backup seems untenable.
Though that position is likely going to either Joey MacDonald or Reto Berra, somehow, so never say never.
And This All Means…
Uh…nothing. Not really.
If you read Kent’s goalie piece yesterday, you’ll know that there is a small army of padded warriors vying for (or, we think vying for) but a few open positions between the NHL and AHL squads, and stacking it all up is a bit of a nightmare.
Danny Taylor taking his name out of the hat means one less person to consider OFFICIALLY, but it doesn’t really shine any kind of light into a foggy situation.
Taylor (as Kent noted) was likely not coming back anyway, and his going to Färjestad might have been the best available option to him.
You can probably also take Barry Brust’s name off the list of candidates (I know he currently has no official affiliation with the Flames, but that dude hauls so much ass he gets to be named in the discussion regardless), and Irving is also likely to take a skate as well.
And I think we can all agree we’ve seen Miikka Kiprusoff put on a Flames jersey for the last time, you know, on purpose.
So this leaves Calgary with Ramo (untested), Berra (likely terrible), MacDonald (still goes by the name Joey), Ortio (Ramo but younger), and Brossoit and Gillies (By Odin, I hope these guys turn into swell goaltenders)
That’s, uh, macabre.
Gillies and Brossoit are long term projects, and I say make it as long term as possible. They both, as hard as it is to predict these kinds of things, look like winners, and I’m all for letting them develop at their own pace and advocate never fast tracking their path to the NHL. Sometimes goalies don’t turn into real goalies until their mid to late twenties (KIPPPPERRRRR), and it’s a really volatile position to begin with, so let’s not go breaking these guys anytime soon.
Which means MacDonald, and the infamously dubious "best goalie outside the NHL" trio to tend the cage next season. This would all be just fine and dandy if we were trying to determine who gets to play for Abbottsford, which I guess we also are, but from a Flames standpoint…uh…well let’s hope TJ Brodie doesn’t start regressing any time soon.
Also, I hear Jonas Hiller is probably going to be available, so like…if the Flames are deadset on having a Swiss goalie on the team, I’m openly endorsing that option as my horse in this race.
For Danny Taylor, life is Slap Shot good right now. He has the chance to live in a beautiful country, play some big minutes in a decent hockey league on a Loob led team that is the class of the Swedish Elite League. He is in an opprtune position to win some (Swedish word for bling), and he’s paid his dues, I think he’s earned it. It’s a shame the NHL dream didn’t pan out for him, but hey, welcome to the 99% of the world who could never hack it either.
For the Flames, well, we continue to wait.
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