Flames Claim Joey MacDonald


joey macdonald

pic Via Alfred Reloaded

Word on the twitter is the Flames have claimed Detroit Red Wings backup Joey MacDonald off of waivers. The 33-year old has bounced around the majors and minors over this career, most recently with Leafs and Red Wings. With 100 games of NHL under his belt, MacDonald is definitely older and more battle-tested than either Irving or Taylor. On the other hand, his career SV% of .903 in the show and only marginally better results in the AHL suggest he probably isn’t much better than the rookies.

This suggests a couple of things:

1.) Kipper is out for longer than what the team is letting on.

2.) The guys in charge aren’t terribly confident in either Irving or Taylor to carry the ball.

Point number two is fair, although I’m not sure how or why Joey MacDonald adds much comfort. Sure he’s older and has more experience, but that additional information has told us he’s really not all that good a goalie. The only thing I can really stick this decision to is the typical anxiety decision makers get in handing over meaningful minutes to untested commodities like the Flames current goaltending duo. 

The addition of MacDonald also means the club is scraping up against the 50-contract ceiling (49). That’s not a terribly big deal right now, but does cut down on the org’s flexibility should other issues or opportunities pop up later.

Expect one of Taylor or Irving to get re-assigned to Abbotsford as early as today in response to this move.

  • CDB

    I’ll wait to reserve judgement but this doesn’t make much sense to me. Look at the teams that have jettisoned Macdonald in his career. Not exactly goaltending powerhouses, and they didn’t view him as worthwhile.

    Irving, through 4 periods has been good. Maybe 1 Columbus goal he’d like back. Other than that, those 4 periods have been better goaltending than Kip provided before he went down. Little surprised in the lack of faith shown after a Vancouver game that could have been 10-1 had he not stood on his head.

    Doubt this has much to do with a trade, as all 3 of the marginal backups we now have have been available for nothing in the past month. Maybe Kippers knee isn’t progressing as was thought it would. Still would have liked to see Irving and Taylor run with it. Find out what we have in these guys over Macdonald who has seen his share of NHL time with no meaningful change in numbers.

    • BobB

      Little surprised in the lack of faith shown after a Vancouver game that could have been 10-1 had he not stood on his head.

      There will never be a goalie stat for “it could’ve been 10-1” and once collective amnesia sets in… people will just look at his save percent. If it’s not good (like in that game) he’s a sieve.

      There is an un-addressed statistical disconnect between what the team does in front, and what a goalie gets on the score sheet that doesn’t exist for players. GlenX doesn’t get a “should have scored 5”, Iggy doesn’t get a “skated 60% as hard as he should have”

      • CDB

        Agreed which is part of my problem with advanced goalie stats. And I am generally a fan of advanced stats. Chris Osgood stopping 25 shots behind lidstrom and the rest of the hall of game destined redwings gets lumped in with the high percentage scoring chances a goalie behind a weaker team gets exposed to. Shot quality gets ignored, shot quantity is quantified

        You cannot honestly say after that fan that he is browsed as a seive based strictly on goals against. Stats are great but they have to be used along with watching the game.

        Hockey isn’t baseball where the play is reset and circumstances are duplicated time and time again with each pitch from a mound and defense in position. Quality of shots or scoring chances clouds save percentage numbers.

        • There are not really any advanced goalie stats. There are only goalie stats, which vary between somewhat useful and totally useless.

          If you could simply watch goalies and predict their future performance based on the quality of shots you perceive they played through well…GM’s wouldn’t make so many mistakes when it comes to signing goalies.

          Puck stoppers are tough. A bounce here or there and a good game becomes a terrible one and vice versa. I can tell you Kipper’s best stretch of the last few years came last Jan-Feb, a time when the Flames weren’t only giving up a lot of shots but a lot of quality shots as well. He has had other stretches where the shots against were no more or less difficult than normal (say, the start of this season) and he has given up bucket loads.

          • CDB

            That’s fair Kent and I agree with the difficulty it predicting goalies future performance. I maybe misread the classification of some of the goalies stats that are used in breaking down goaltender performances.

            Interesting point about Kippers best stretch coming at time facing a lot of quality shots. I just find too often people compare the save percentage of a trapping, or defensively responsible team versus others. The fact of the matter it’s not the same. When kipper was back bailing out Hannan, sarich and butler I would venture a guess they were better quality scoring chances than lindquvist wa facing behind staal, girardi, mcdonagh etc.

            It simply doesn’t match the test of watching the games. It’s akin to having two hitters in baseball platoon, with one hitter facing david Pryce, verlander and sabathia, while the other hits off teams 4th and 5th starters. I use baseball because it has the most advanced statistics in sports. They might have the same amount of at bats but to say one hitter is superior because of abetter average would be false. I believe it’s unfair to blast Irving for the Vancouver game. He was under a barrage. To simply point at his save percentage and say he’s a sieve is not accurate. Sure there will be stretches like indicated with kiprusoff but only a far superioe goaltender can make up for discrepancy in quality of chances allowed versus save percentage over a large sample size. I feel there needs to be a factor of quality of shot or scoring chance taken into account before people can simply point to save percentage as the only indicator of a goalies performance

            Appreciate your insight kent.

          • That’s intuitive, but no one has been able to show that one team is any better or worse than any other team at driving or preventing shot quality over time. There are certainly individual games and occasionally groups of games where a team yields more or less good shots against than usual, but over a large enough sample it seems there isn’t enough of a difference between clubs to be truly detectable. Volume of shots seems far more sensitive to team talent than quality.

            The most predictive stat for goalies is SV%. In a single season, it makes sense to pay attention to ES SV% because the special teams rates are much more affected my randomness. Overall SV% tends to be more predictive over larger samples though.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    This smells like panic to me. Signing an older, more experienced, and not-better version of what you already have seems to be useless.

    What is the point? Even if Kipper is out for the season, you don’t even know for sure if either goalie you already have is better or worse than Joey. If only one of the current guys turns out to be even just as good as Joey, not to mention better, then all they’ve done is waste some $$ and 1 contract. If at some point in the future the Flames discover that both Irv and Tay are worse than Joey, the chances that Joey has become unavailable and that any other goalie of his ilk is unavailable is slim to none (and Slim just left town – bazinga!).

  • BobB

    This is really a reflection of poor asset management and assessment.

    The Flames fans and ownership have either exalted Kiprusoff to the status of a infinitely durable god, or deemed him a easily replaceable average goalie.

    The reality is he’s a .925evsv% goalie (which places him the in top ten of active goalies since he arrived in Calgary) He’s 36 and has played more games than any than any other goalie since the last lockout. I’m one of the biggest “believers” in what his stats demonstrate, but he will be/can be here and gone like any other star player.

    However, the reluctance for those involved in Flames-land to acknowledge the massive gap between Kipper and cumulative body of work of all the other goalies who have backed him up (unless we pick individual small samples) has got us to this inevitable point.

    We have no legit #2 goalie, we haven’t given any prospective #2 sufficient playing time, and we haven’t had a good contingency plan for years. Signing MacDonald is a reflex plan, lacking vision.

    Kipper wasn’t giving us reason to miss him with those first 5 games, but that may change quickly.

    Acquiring a legit #2 (think what Schnieder is to Luongo, Bernier to Quick, Rask to Thomas) should have been dealt with long ago.

    And that’s all a damn shame, because I’ll give credit where it’s due, the current brass seem to have a promising thing going this year (we’ll see) with the team and it’s “system”. It’d be a further shame if this year fell to pieces due to a shortened season and an injury. Unless of course your only hope is a high draft pick.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Rask and Schieder are legit #2 goaltenders in the same way that Malkin is a legit #2 centre; they’re absolutely starting goaltenders who are/were backups as a result of circumstance.

        • SmellOfVictory

          In that case I’d have to diagree; no backup should have expectations that great placed on them. They just have to not be terrible (unfortunately for the Flames, most of their backups have been terrible).

          • BobB

            It’s not really a matter of placing expectations. It’s a matter of pursuing continuous improvement and assessing assets. To assess a goalie, he’s got to play (especially a young one.) If he cannot play because Kipper takes the load, then you need to find someone who has played at this level and you can have some confidence in, but even then, you gotta play him.

            Fishing for some dude in the SEL cause he’s tall and then having him sit on the bench doesn’t tell you what you’ve got. Then when you find out it’s too late. If the Flames had a goalie who was a very good back-up, Kipper wouldn’t have to play so much, right? Unless we think there is no other goalie in the league who is even close to Kipper’s skill…. and that I doubt.

            You don’t neglect your fourth line center because you have Crosby, he still plays an important role even if he plays 1/10 the minutes Crosby does. Sure, goalies are per 60min, but it’s the same principle.

  • Parallex

    Did Detroit just want rid of him and his spot on the reserve list or did they want him in the AHL? Just wondering if once Kipper is back we could trade one of MacDonald, Taylor, or Irving back to them.

  • TheRealPoc

    This isn’t really hard to decipher, imo. MacDonald wasn’t on waivers when they signed Taylor, and Feaster had no intent to give up an asset to enter the backup market. In the meantime, Irving’s let in some painfully soft goals. If their pro scouts believe MacDonald’s an upgrade at backup over Irving, so be it. That option wasn’t available last week, now it is.

    Kiprusoff and Cammalleri both activated for Dallas on Wednesday night, Taylor and Irving go down to Abby to accommodate their returns, MacDonald becomes the backup. Unless I’m missing something here?

  • MacDonald is a reliable veteran and his stats haven’t wobbled around that much, but he’s bounced around the league a lot (with stops in Detroit, Boston, Long Island and Toronto).

    His trade value in recent years was a 7th rounder, which makes me wonder how he’s much of an upgrade over Irving, Karlsson, Taylor or any of the other back-up options.

  • supra steve

    Yeah, this makes little sense to me. Even if Kip is out for the season, MacDonald doesn’t sound like an upgrade on what they already have. Hope they know what they are doing, I imagine they do? Little cost, so low risk. Also, I guess injuries happen, if Irving or Taylor go down they would be scrambling again.

  • Apparently the team has placed Cammalleri on IR for the time being, meaning MacDonald can be added without sending anyone down. Irving/Taylor will be in tonight no doubt, but there will be changes after that.

  • jakeryley

    If they didn’t have faith in Taylor or Irving – they should have gone out and signed a UFA goalie. There is no way MacDonald becoming available should have changed any sort of plans for Flames management, he’s an aged back-up.

    For this to make any sort of sense to me, Kipper’s injury must be more severe than originally thought.

    …otherwise it just looks like a GM with no actual plan, because again – giving Taylor a deal and then 2 days later claiming a goalie of no consequence is bizarre.