FN Mailbag – March 28, 2016


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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

  • RedMan

    “That means the Flames are starting to enter “win now” territory”

    based solely on the fact that Flames signed a lot of placeholders through to the end of next season, i think you are one year premature with this thought.

  • Flash

    If the asking price for Andersen / Reimer is stupidly high (which seems to be the case), I would be happy with Ramo / Ortio combo.

    They were the only two goalies this year that showed any consistency, while giving the Flames a chance to win on most nights.

    • Kevin R

      Ramo will very unlikely be fully recovered by July 1, recovery could extend to Sept. Thats a serious injury for a goaltender. You really think BT will risk another year of below average goaltending on a health questionable Ramo & unproven Ortio. I realize Ortio has been OK lately, he’s earned a 2nd chance but if he’s our #1 by next fall because Ramo isn’t ready, that could be a career ending disaster for BT. I don’t see BT going down that path.

    • Kevin R

      No way Anaheim trades Andersen to a Pacifac team for a package of 2nd round picks. Flames may have to offer sheet him if that is their target.

      People need to realize that the 1 or 2 teams that will be picking off players from other teams, have to take NHL calibre players. They can’t take prospects from the AHL who aren’t good enough to crack the big team, these teams simply can’t dress AHL lineups in their first year. So targets for the Flames are teams with 1A & 1B goaltenders, or a #1 & a goalie on the cusp of being a #1.

      If we help a team out Like Detroit or Dallas or even St Louis, they need to take one of our contracts off of us. Anaheim would fall into that category, but they won’t do us any favours.

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Agree mainly because of St Louis cap issues…they have 16 of 23 players needed signed at 57.165M, so need to sign 7 more at about 14 to 17M depending on whether NHLPA elects for 5% cap escalator.

      Since they will likely want to keep Backes, Brouwer, and and Jaden Schwarz, well that’s going to take most of their space. Sending them a cheap forward plus a second rounder could get us Elliott who is signed at $2.5M while they go with Allen and Nilsson or other.

      Flames can assess Elliott for future or transition away from him after just 1 year. Nice!

    • Baalzamon

      agreed. He’ll be cheap, he isn’t super old (only a year older than Ramo, and two years older than Ben Bishop) and not yet declining. Perfect stop gap.

    • Greg

      That’s my target as well. Although depending how the playoffs go, the blues may elect to keep him and trade Allen instead. Assuming the league expands to Vegas (and that’s all), goalie trades are going to get super interesting. Both Stl and Ana are going to lose a goalie and are going to be playing chicken between trying to get as much as they can and getting nothing at all.

      Personally, I don’t think the asking prices will be as high as some people expect. Theres not a lot of teams that don’t already have a goalie they would worry about losing if they picked up Elliot or Andersen, so they won’t pitch much. Pittsburg, TB, Detroit, etc will also offer up their wares at a discount which will keep prices low. And the flames will have the option to get a 1 year stop gap and just negotiate a side deal with the expansion team next year instead (tell them to take both Elliot and Andersen and we’ll trade with them for 1, as an example).

      I think the flames would be crazy to give up more than a package of 2nds right now. If the prices are higher then that, go for a cheaper 1 year option (Raanta, Enroth, etc) and then wait and see a) how do goalies adjust to the smaller equipment and b) what shakes out with pre-expansion draft trades. Imagine if the flames did trade their 2017 1st for Andersen, only to find out he sucks with smaller gear, and it ends up being another top 5 pick as a result?

  • freethe flames

    I have mentioned a few time some cheap alternatives: Raanta from NYR or Enrothe from LA; both are UFA’a who could be place holders along with Ortio.

    • flames2015

      I agree. If the asking price is too high for Andersen, I think we should take a chance on a capable backup and see if he can be the stop gap for a year or two on a cheaperdeal than what it would cost for a number one. If it turns out like a Martin Jones situation that would be great. Reimer reportedly ask the leafs for $6 million.

  • Denscafon

    I honestly don’t know how high the asking price for Anderson from the ducks will be actually. Talbot was traded to Edmonton for 2nd/3rd/7th round picks. I understand that the price will be higher due to the flames being in the same division/conference but that might be negated from the the impending danger of losing Anderson to the expansion draft. That uncertainty might make the ducks take whatever the best offer they get, even if it’s within the division.

    I would say our 2nd rounder, and the pick from dallas (whether that is a very late first or 2nd pick) would potentially be good enough.

  • T&A4Flames

    Based on Elliott Freidmann’s 30 thoughts, I understood Gillies to be unsafe without being protected. I believe it was Darren Haynes that recently wrote about the pending expansion draft and how it would effect CGY. He remained everyone that last year, Gillies signed and then spent the remainder of the year as the 3rd goalie with the Flames, thus burning his 1st year. This was his 2nd year.

    If that’s the case, then I say getting a goalie that won’t cost good assets is the way to go. I really wanted Andersson but not at the expense of possibly losing Gillies.

    Kent, can you confirm this at all? Haynes is usually on the money with these types of things.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Re-sign Orts for 1-2 years. Then:

    Sign Elliot for 1 year.

    Or re-sign Ramo for 1 year for less than he made this season. He isn’t completely awful, and the Flames aren’t winning the Cup next year anyway. And then no one has to buy Elliot jerseys.

    Or trade Wideman to PHI for Steve Mason. He’s only got 1 year left on $4m deal. BT just has to convince Ragin’ Ron that he needs an aging and expensive PP specialist. Ron doesn’t want Mason because he has Neuvirth who is better, younger, and cheaper.

    Don’t draft Tkachuk! He’ll get SO FAT in the offseason.