Flames interested in Yale goalie Alex Lyon

If there are any players the Flames should be interested in, it’s definitely goalies. So to hear that they’re seeking the services of Alex Lyon – the highly sought-after junior Yale goalie who is foregoing his senior year – is of no surprise.

If they can get him will be another story. But for an organization that’s awfully low on goaltending options, Lyon could be a really great get.

Who is Alex Lyon?

Lyon is an undrafted 23-year-old 6’1, 200 lb. goalie from Minnesota. Coming up through the USHL, where he posted decent enough save percentages, he committed to Yale in the NCAA (Kenny Agostino’s old stomping grounds! Lyon was a freshman when Agostino was a senior) – and from there, he’s risen.

As a freshman, Lyon played 30 games for the Yale Bulldogs, posting a .918 save percentage. As a sophomore, he went up to 32 games, and leaped all the way to a .939 save percentage. Now most recently, as a junior, he played 31 games, and maintained his impressive performance, posting a .936 save percentage. That’s the second best save percentage in the NCAA this season, just one point behind Parker Gahagen, and tied with Nick Ellis – Jon Gillies’ replacement in Providence – and Thatcher Demko.

Lyon has, unquestionably, been one of the best goalies in the NCAA this season.

He could keep going back to school. But instead, he’s decided to go pro – and in the process, has become very much sought after by NHL teams.

At least a dozen, as the New Haven Register reports in the above link. He’s attended camps with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks in the past, but never signed a deal, even though the Hawks offered him one before this season.

The Leafs, meanwhile, have signed another college free agent goalie, Minnesota-Duluth’s Kasimir Kaskisuo. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re out of the running, though – and even then, there are still another 10 or so teams the Flames have to contend with for Lyon’s services.

Where would he fit in?

Goaltending is a really tricky position, in part because there are so few slots available on a roster. In typical cases, you have two, and that’s it. That doesn’t leave much room: two in the NHL, two in the AHL, two in the ECHL, and whoever else stashed away in juniors or Europe. 

And even then, time may not be evenly split; even if the Flames don’t get Lyon, it’s entirely possible we see Mason McDonald, who will be eligible to turn professional next season, playing in the ECHL just so he can get some starts while Gillies, presumably, gets the bulk of the workload in Stockton.

Unless Lyon disrupts those plans, one way or another. Because the Flames are a team that have next to nothing going for them in goaltending, and nobody signed at the NHL level.

That could be an enticing factor to draw Lyon in – there could be an NHL spot available for him – but it would also be an incredibly risky one. It’s rare to see college goalies make the jump right into the NHL. 

Matt O’Connor, for example, was courted by a handful of NHL teams just last season, and the then-junior, who posted a .927 save percentage for Boston University, ultimately went to Ottawa. There, through 30 games this season, he has a .890 save percentage in the AHL.

Or take the Bruins’ Zane McIntyre, who left North Dakota after his .929 save percentage junior season last year. This season, he’s posted a .894 save percentage through 27 AHL games.

And it’s not likely Gillies can make the jump to the NHL next season, either. His first professional season was essentially wiped out due to hip surgery. He’s still, for all intents and purposes, a rookie: and he’ll be one who hasn’t played in nearly a year by the time he returns to a game setting. He’ll need that AHL time.

The Flames have goaltending spots open at the NHL level, but that’s not quite the case in the minors. So while they should be in on Lyon, and there very well could be opportunity here, whether he sees Calgary as his best option with a dozen other teams courting him is up in the air.

  • EhPierre

    As of right now, I’m not worried if Lyon signs with us or not. I’m just glad Tre is actively scouting and recruiting YOUNG goalies for our YOUNG team. It’s going to be crazy how young our core will be in ’18 when hopefully we should be ready to compete.

    In Tre we trust.

    • Stu Cazz

      No he is still on rehab and will continue to do so for the remainder of the summer. I see him spending the entire next season in Stockton for development as he is now a year behind…..

  • Baalzamon

    I fully expect McDonald will at least start next season in the ECHL. And he should probably spend the entire season there (like Brossoit did when he turned pro).

    As for Lyon, there’s always room for good players. With Gillies coming back from an injury, it would be good to have another talented keeper with upside in the AHL.

  • RKD

    I don’t Lyon needs to worry about McDonald or Gilles blocking him in the system. Goalies get usurped all the time. If Lyon is a strong goalie he will take over with his play.

  • Dan the flames fan

    OK, now I get to rant. I struggle with the flames and their development system with goaltenders. Calgary needs to revamp that system to support growth,and fans need to understand that goaltenders need time,…And maturity, to become successful. We, (Flames in general), tend to be shortish teddy and impatient with any goaltender we have, and unless they immediately produce at a .940 save percentage from the start, we panic and look for something better. I have two cases in point. Calgary drafted a few years back, and did not sign a goaltender they thought was not doing well in his development; so they allowed him to go back into the draft. That goaltender was Craig Anderson. Ortio’s has been considered to be mishandled this year. But even last year, he had a few really good games, and after a poor game (by the whole team mind you), fan started to dissect his game with relish. I personally still think he has the potential to be a strong 1a or 1b goalie in the NHL. The biggest knock Ortio’s has against him is he drops to quickly and plays too much in the net; and yet Crawford has been noted to do the exact same thing, and nobody questions his talent or position. If Calgary signs Lyons, great, but at who’s expense? Some one will have to be positioned away from the development system, and it still doesn’t address our need to fill the net at the NHL level.

  • freethe flames

    BT should be kicking the tires on any NCAA free agent that can play; that is why you have a scouting staff. I hope they fins someone who can add depth to the organization and might be able to play in the NHL someday. Goalies usually take a long time to develop. Here’s hoping we can resign Ortio(hopefully he still wants to play here; based on his play I think he does) and they give him a chance to be part of the tandem 25 games at least. As for the other guy who knows who it will be; but don’t expect it to one of the big names people talk about here.

    • Stu Cazz

      As an RFA I believe all the Flames need to do is qualify Ortio which automatically gives him a 10% raise and he remains Flames property for another year. Of course he will then become a UFA at end of next season but IMO Flames sign him to a 2 year deal as early as this summer….