Welcome to the (almost) all goaltending edition of the FlamesNation mailbag! In the wake of the latest below average goaltending performance (Backstrom vs. Minnesota at the time of writing), the Flames’ crease seems to be the top priority in the minds of fans heading into the offseason.
For good reason. Calgary has suffered through the worst goaltending in the entire league this year (.912 SV% at ES). Although the club still has a lot of wrinkles to iron out, puckstopping is definitely the number one culprit behind the Flames’ lack of success in 2015-16.
Problems in goal can be a kind of blessing or a major curse. A blessing, because goaltending is the only position that can be instantly fixed with a single acquisition: one, good goalie. Everywhere else a GM needs to build a depth and variety of players, but not in net. A single guy can make a major difference.
A curse because that single guy can also sink an entire roster. This is doubly problematic because decision makers in the NHL stink at evaluating goaltender talent relative to forwards and defenders. Put these two things together and you have conditions for some very bad decision making. Think “Ilya Bryzgalov in Philadelphia”.
Brad Treliving faces this conundrum in the offseason. His roster is maturing to the degree that he has to start writing big cheques and making tough decisions. That means the Flames are starting to enter “win now” territory, but without any clear answers in net. A misstep could be another few years in the Western Conference basement, while a good bet could mean a huge stride forward next season.
— Mike McDaniel (@MikeMcD76) March 25, 2016
This will greatly depend on what the Flames can spend after the Gaudreau and Monahan extensions. For now, the list hasn’t changed much from this look we took back in December. Big deals to the kids would likely eliminate guys like Ben Bishop and Jimmy Howard though.
— Der Bozz (@Patriiick16) March 25, 2016
You’ll get bored of this phrase, but it depends. What are the Ducks asking for in return for Andersen? What does Reimer want in terms of salary to sign in Calgary? My initial, speculative preference is Andersen because I think his contract will be a lot more manageable (pending RFA), which is hugely important for the Flames right now.
— RobtimusPrime (@CutterMcAwesome) March 25, 2016
Almost certainly not. Not only does the club not have a read on Gillies at the pro level thanks to this lost season, but the kid will be recovering from major surgery and trying to establish himself again after months on the shelf.
— Hunter Ridge Farm (@HunterRidgeFarm) March 25, 2016
This is possible, assuming Gillies would be eligible to be grabbed in the entry draft. There’s some confusion on that front, but Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts seems to suggest Gillies is exempt:
In asking for clarification, I was told, “Players who have only earned two years of pro service are second-year pros and are exempt.” So there you go. Unless the framework is changed, teams (and their fans) need not worry.
Treliving may still have to settle for a one or two year stopgap, but only if he can’t find a better option.
— Mike McDaniel (@MikeMcD76) March 25, 2016
— Free Flames Scout (@FlamesScoutFan) March 25, 2016
Something significant, if the target is a good one.
Obviously not any of the untouchables or the first round pick from this upcoming draft, but… any draft pick after the first one and any prospect starting at Rasmus Anderson/Andrew Mangiapane and below should potentially be on the table.
If Treliving is a gambling man, he could offer up the Flames’ first rounder in 2017 as well.
— Rob Jamieson (@robscureness) March 25, 2016
Haha. Backstrom isn’t the Flames plans next year. He won’t even be in the NHL. They’re doing him a solid by letting him play, but it’s nothing more than that.
— hitthepost (@hitthepost) March 25, 2016
From what we’ve seen this year, Nakladal is probably a capable bottom-pairing NHLer. He’s definitely worth keeping around on a short, cheap deal.
— Dave Camwell (@davecamwell) March 25, 2016
I hope not. It will mean Treliving couldn’t get rid of his deal (or was unwilling to demote him) or that the club doesn’t have any better options.
Both are bad scenarios.
— Jason Roycroft (@jrroycroft) March 26, 2016
Assuming this is a decision the Flames will have to make (which would mean they are picking second overall), Laine is my initial preference if only because his results are superior to his countryman in the same league. Tkachuk is putting up stupidly good numbers in the OHL (107 points in 57 games), but he’s riding shotgun to Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak, which is likely skewing things upward for him.
In the end, you probably can’t wrong with any of these guys though.