Upcoming unrestricted free agent goaltenders

[ed. MattyFranchise is back with another great guest post! Today, we’re looking at soon-to-be UFA goaltenders, which I’m sure is something we’re all very much interested in. Read the breakdown below!]

With the Flames season coming to an end and a complete lack of signed goaltenders for the 2016-17 season I’ve decided to take a look at possible options for an upgrade in net from the unrestricted free agent market. There aren’t many options, though, so the player list I’ve put together is pretty small and while some are excellent backups, only one established starter is available on the UFA market. 

All players listed are aged 25 to 32 so most of these goaltenders should be entering or are in the prime of their careers. For comparison’s sake I’ve included the Flames’ best two goaltenders and the most likely to return for next season: Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio.

Areas I’ve focused on in particular are performances at Even Strength, Shorthanded, and All Situations. Save Percentage and Adjusted Save Percentage are given to provide a baseline while I take a closer look at the quality of saves from each goaltender. Save quality is broken down into three categories: Low (3), Medium (2), and High Danger Save Percentage (1). Via War On Ice the three grades of chances are defined below:


First we’ll take a look at the goaltenders that are set to become UFAs this summer, in order of games played for their current teams along with their win/loss records and age, followed by the Flames’ best options within their system.

Cam Ward
Age: 32
Team: Carolina Hurricanes
Games Played: 52
Record: 23-17-10

Chad Johnson
Age: 29
Games Played: 45
Record: 22-16-4

James Reimer
Age: 28
Games Played: 40 (32 Leafs, 8 Sharks)
Record: 17-14-7

Al Montoya
Age: 31
Games Played: 25
Record: 12-7-3

Antti Raanta
Age: 26
Team: New York Rangers
Games Played: 24
Record: 11-6-2

Carter Hutton
Age: 30
Team: Nashville Predators
Games Played: 17
Record: 7-5-4

Jhonas Enroth
Age: 27
Team: Los Angeles Kings
Games Played: 16
Record: 7-5-1

Ben Scrivens
Age: 29
Team: Montreal Canadiens
Games Played: 15
Record: 5-8-0

The Flames Goaltenders

Karri Ramo
Age: 29
Games Played: 37
Record: 17-18-1

Joni Ortio
Age: 25
Games Played: 22
Record: 7-9-5

Even Strength Numbers


There are a couple of things to pay particular attention to: SA/60 and the breakdown of SV% within the scoring chances defined above (SV%L, SV%M, and SV%H). We see here that the Flames’ current goaltenders are facing the highest volume of even strength shots against, with the exception of Scrivens (and Reimer and Johnson, to lesser extents). Since the Flames are mostly trailing in HSCF%, examined previously here, this is something any incoming goaltender is going to have to deal with.

Of the most-worked goalies we see Scrivens getting shelled, trying to hold on from a distance but falling flat on his face once the opposition gets into the low slot (SV%H) area. Ramo has a similar problem in that he’s allowing far more goals from the low slot than he is from anywhere else but this area is a large improvement on Scrivens’ numbers. Reimer, however, has the best 5v5 SV% out of all represented goaltenders which is undoubtedly boosted by his stellar High Danger SV%.

While Reimer is the early frontrunner, he did get a boost when he was traded to San Jose which certainly helps his numbers. However, I don’t think the boost he got was so significant that he’s going to trip out of the gates next season. As for established starter Cam Ward? He has the lowest SA/60 of all goalies listed and the lowest 5v5 SV%. At this point I don’t feel he’s an upgrade on the two goalies I consider most likely to reappear in Flames silks next season.

Penalty Kill Ranking


It’s often been said that the best penalty killer on your team has to be the goaltender. Here, I want you to consider the workload of the goaltender in question, represented by SA/60, and the quality of the saves the goaltender is making when the team is down a man and really needs him to pull through. 

Since Reimer played for San Jose and Toronto this season both teams are listed. However, more weight should be given to Toronto’s position in the standings as Reimer played 80% of his games there.


Veteran backups Hutton and Montoya are the best penalty killing goalies available, with Raanta and Johnson not far behind. High Danger SV% shows Raanta as the clear winner, which helps somewhat mitigate the HSCF% deficit the Flames played with all season long, with Montoya and Hutton rounding out the top 3.

All Situations


In all situations (EV/SH/PP regardless of score effects) our hardest working goalies are Scrivens, Reimer, and Johnson, with Reimer and Johnson both remaining in the top three when SA/60 is considered along with unadjusted SV%. Enroth leads in High Danger SV% with Reimer not far behind.

If the Flames decide to pass on Ramo this offseason I think that using his $3.8 million cap hit on the free agent market is a reasonable course of action. Cam Ward’s $6.3 million cap hit this season hopefully takes him out of the running as he’d have to take a considerable pay cut to play here if we’re only working with Ramo’s $3.8 million, while Scrivens should be avoided outright. Carter Hutton has the best penalty killing numbers, but he’s also 30 years old and has played only 35 games over the past two seasons.

While I doubt the Flames want to take a gamble in net next season, there is a chance that they might have to. If they do and manage to pry one of either Raanta or Enroth away from their current teams I feel it would be a job well done on Treliving’s part. 

If Reimer or Johnson haven’t played themselves out of the Flames’ price range, either would be an upgrade on Ramo while giving the team time to see if Ortio is going to be a long term solution or not. Any of these players can be had for nothing more than a roster spot and it would be silly to think that Treliving isn’t considering these options and watching closely as their teams duke it out in the playoffs.

  • brodiegio4life

    would be amazing to get murray out of Pittsburgh but the asking price will probably be ridiculous. Wouldn’t even be surprised if they wanted to protect murray over fleury in an expansion draft.

  • wot96

    Good work.

    I’m still not convinced the Flames can tie up too much money in a goalie or goalies. I think a guy like Reimer, if you want him, is over the budget unless Johnny and Mony give the team a discount. But Reimer is probably going to want to sign long term and I just don’t know that the Flames want to go there with Gillies in the minors.

    Figure Ortio gets a bit of a raise and call it $1m even. Does the team want to sign him for a couple of years at that price so that they have at least a reliable back up that can provide some starts, sometimes?

    If the team chooses to bring Ramo back, what’s his price point? I would not have thought it would be $3.8m again given his injury and the fact that he is still not what I would call proven. If he could be brought back on the cheap, I would think long and hard about doing that while Gillies got some seasoning in Stockton.

    I think the Goalie plan has to wait until the situation with Johnny and Mony is attended to.

  • Kevin R

    This is going to be Tre’s most important decision & I really don’t like any of these options. Reimer looks like the best bet, but I want nothing to do with the term or $$$ for him. Wasn’t that long ago he struggled & the Leafs brought in Bernier. Could easily happen here & how bad would that look if we give Reimer a 5 year $25mill contract & he sucks out of the gate.

    Raanta or Enroth would be OK but perception would be neither of these guys are really established #1’s, just potential to be very solid 1b’s or back ups.

    Honestly, I think we need a bridge so we can see what Ortio really is & get a full year of Gillies in Stockton. I don’t expect Flames to be a contender next year anyway, hopefully playoffs but that would be the ceiling. We have contract issues & kids that are reaching their due dates to get their chance. Leafs are in big time rebuild mode. If Tre could kill 2 birds with one stone, that would be the way I would go. If he could somehow get Leafs to take Wideman & sweeten it up with the latest 2nd round pick we end up with for Bernier, I would do it. Bernier has 1 year left & is a RFA, so he would have TDL value back. Who knows, being a contract year he may come out & have a monster year, getting us back into the playoffs & even tantalizing us with thinking he may be worth keeping & resigning. Bottom line, we move Wideman, address the goalie vacancy, buy Ortio & Gillies 1 more year & utilize the free cap space for a badly needed forward.

    Ideally, I would love to pull Murray out of Pitt, but that aint happening. No way St Louis trades either Elliott or Allen. Why would they, they have 2 more years left each for a combined price of what we dumped on Hiller alone. Why would they do that. No, I am leaning to a 1 year bridge before we really go goalie shopping.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      Thing is, they didn’t bring in Bernier because Reimer was struggling. They got Bernier almost right after Reimer dragged them kicking and screaming into the playoffs and posted a solid .924 SV% playing in 33 of 48 games. he had a bad 3rd period of game 7, but still posted a .923 in those playoffs. They didn’t even wait until the 13/14 season was underway to trade for Bernier, he was a acquired in June of 2013.

  • cjc

    How reproducible are shorthanded save percentages (or save percentages against high danger chances)? My gut feeling is that there would be a lot of year to year variation in those numbers.

    • MattyFranchise

      The main thing to consider with 4v5 SV% is how much the goalie in question hurt or helped the teams PK%. This season, of the goaltenders featured, every single player helped to improve overall penalty killing. Some by a lot (Hutton, Montoya) while only one came anywhere near hurting their team’s PK chances (Enroth).

      As for the “danger zones” of individual save percentages, yes there is some volatility. The samples year over year when you break down shots against that much are prone to fluctuate more than the overall save percentages will. However, the range is generally not as large as one might think. For example, over the past 5 seasons Cam Ward has settled into 81.5 to 82.5 high danger SV% while the range on the low and medium danger chances have a little more variance.

      Henrik Lunquist, which I’m sure we can all agree is a top notch goaltender, displays a similar range. As does James Reimer, although the numbers will appear to be quite skewed at first glance because he was lights out good once he got traded to the Sharks.

      So to hopefully answer your question, the SH SV% contains more answers when you compare it to the team’s PK% while the shot danger breakdown gives us an idea of where a player might land later on down the road in different situations.

      Are the numbers reproducible? I would say the individual scoring chance numbers and once we reach a suitable sample size they are generally consistent. And once again, the PK SV% numbers are best viewed relative to the team.

      I hope this rambling made sense, I’m pretty tired.

      • cjc

        That is VERY interesting (i.e. more variance against low/medium danger chances). Not what I would have guessed.

        However apples should be compared to apples then (i.e. only look at PK% when the goalie was on the ice). Outside of Ward and Johnson none of those goalies played > half the season, so comparing their SV% to PK% for the season could be misleading.

        Outside of Ward and Scrivens, I’d be happy with any two of those goalies on short term deals. Calgary will have so much more flexibility to do something next summer.

  • T&A4Flames

    I’m not sold on any of the UFA options. If we could get Reimer or Raanta on a 2 year deal, sure, give them a try. My preference would be to make a trade that gets us a goalie signed for 2 possibly 3 more years at the most.

    The very unfortunate thing is that the expansion draft isn’t, likely, until next year. So any team with 2 solid goalies will likely hold out until next summer before they look to move one instead of possibly losing one for nothing to expansion. Best hope is that one GM may want to be proactive and move a goalie before the rest of the pack gets involved.

    WPG has 3 goalies, all of which are pretty decent. One of them may be worth a try and I could see them moving at least one of them. I certainly wouldn’t mind taking a flier on Hutchinson (likely Hellebuyck is the one they would like to keep).

    • Parallex

      I think three years is optimal.

      It would fit well with a succession plan for Gillies (or McDonald)… year one they develop in the AHL, if that goes well in year two they get their feet wet in the NHL as back-up, if that goes well year three they get a shot at starting or being 1A/B while the guy we get this offseason either becomes the back-up or splits starts.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Steve Mason will probably be REALLY cheap to obtain this summer after his horrendous play-offs performance. Big, young, he’s had some good years…

    He has one year left at $4 Million I think; any takers?


    • Matty Franchise Jr

      I’d love for them to take Wideman in exchange for Mason. Gets us out of the black hole of his $5.25M cap hit. Even if we retained some salary, at least we’d be paying for a goalie we need instead of a d-man we don’t.

      • everton fc

        I’d do this deal, as well. But the Flyers have other cap issues to deal with, don’t they? So picking up Wideman, would that really benefit them?

        I think Ortio and Gillies are the future tandem. Brining in Mason would be a good “bridge”. Of the UFA’s, Reimer’s the most attractive to me, as he did well in a crazy market (Toronto) where many have fallen apart (see Bernier).

        Would anyone take a fly at Bernier as the bridge, with Wideman moving the other way?

    • McRib

      Anderson is a major hot head with a mediocre metal aspect to his game (important aspect to not overlook for goaltenders). There is no way in heck that they give Gibson up, he is their guy long term no questions asked. Anderson would be a fine bridge type goaltender, but he is never going to be a franchise goaltender and our asking price should be adjusted to account for that (3rd Rounder max?). Honestly if you don’t believe me that Anderson has character problems…..

      Just think to yourself why did Anaheim fast track Gibson this year when Anderson looked so good last year? They honestly gave up on Anderson overnight, because he is not a great human being (also why he was never signed by Carolina first team that drafted him and why he fell to 87th in 2012 when he was essentially NHL ready and every team knew about it). Anderson is a very mediocre person (see smashing sticks, whining, etc anytime he gets pulled), Gibson is one of the best up and coming goaltenders in the NHL (whose also strong mentally), also younger not happening.

  • The Fall

    I agree with Kevin R and WW.

    Mason or Bernier seem like great targets. Babs wants nothing to do with Bernier, and Mason has had brilliant moments in this career already.

    There are those intangibles about your skaters ‘playing’ better in front of someone that has a high compete level — the play in front of Ortio was much different than the play in front of Hiller last year.

    A 0.5 reduction in goals against puts the Flames in a fight for the playoffs.

  • Greg

    I’d like to see this list again but with all the potential trade targets included… Murray/flurry, Elliot/Allen, Andersen/Gibson, Bishop, etc.

    But I’d also like to see some season to season variability analysis too. Part of me worries that’ll show that any given season for a goalie is a lot of voodoo, making it really tough to price a contract or trade offer regardless of who BT chases.

  • If we went after a goalie through the trade route, Philip Grubauer and Calvin Pickard are two young, interesting names that may be had for cheapish considering the number one’s they are playing behind.

  • McRib

    People really need to drop the whole Matt Murray and John Gibson pipe dream discussion. Those two are two of the most hyped promising young up and coming netminders in the NHL. Those two teams would be crazy to give away them for anything outside of our first round pick this summer, which is an asinine thought considering the talent available in the Top. 7 this year. Worse case we draft Nylander… You really want to watch him go score 60-70+ points a year for the next decade minimum? Don’t even get me started on passing on a Matthews, Laine, etc. For a goaltender who are far more uncertain (there is reason NHL teams rarely take goalies the first round anymore. Goalies = voodoo.

    Not to mention John Gillies easily has just as much long term upside as those two regardless, which makes giving up a prime time draft pick pointless (Top. 7 pick this year is likely a forward who are much more certain than goaltenders of panning out long term anyway). We need a Raanta (2nd Rounder?), Ortio combo to bridge the gap until Gillies is ready in the next year or two. Lastly if we were going to go all in on a goaltender we are 2-3 years away into the rebuild from that being a smart decision. Unless you want to produce another Kipper or Price situation where a goalie stands on their heads every year for us elevating us from a Bottom. 5 team to best case a fringe playoff team that doesn’t get past second round in playoffs or worse case us drafting 12-14 every year.

    • Baalzamon

      On another, tangentially related note… the 2012 draft was the last time a goalie was drafted in the first round. It was a dismal draft class in almost every respect. The only way it wasn’t? Goalies.

      Andrei Vasilevskiy, Malcolm Subban, Anthony Stolarz, Joonas Korpisalo, Gillies, Chris Dreidger, Murray, Andersen, Connor Hellebuyck.

      That’s a lot of goaltending talent in one (bad) draft class.

      • McRib

        I guess, although I have absolutely never been sold on a couple goalies on this list. Malcolm Subban for starters doesn’t seem like he is ever going to be an impactful NHLer in the slightest (first round pick). He regressed big time this year in the AHL. It definitely was an above average class though, goaltenders have been really streaky last few drafts. This year is fairly abysmal, next year is great. How unpredictable are goalies Oscar Dansk would make 2/3 of that Top. 3 goalie class to bust.

        However I also wouldn’t say the 2012 NHL Draft was a bad draft class in the slightest the Top. 5 “high-end” talent didn’t work out all that well (mostly because certain high end players were injured). But Filip Forsberg, Shayne Gostisbehere, Morgan Reilly, Alex Galchenyuk, Olli Maata, Jacob Trouba, Teuvo Teravainen, Matt Dumba, Tomas Hertl, Scott Laughton, Tanner Pearson, Derrick Pouliot, Cody Ceci, Chris Tierney, Zemgus Girgensons, Colton Parayko, Tom Wilson, etc. I mean that draft class is only age 22 still players to emerge from that class. Look at someone like Derrick Pouliot he had 0.32 PPG and is two years away from his prime. Even someone like Scott Laughton he had 21 points in his first full season… I think it will end up as a below average class without high-end talent out of Top. 5, but historically it is no where near as bad at some of the worst drafts, lol. The college kids Jordan Schmaltz, Michael Matheson, Brady Skjei, Mark Jankowski were just getting a taste of pro hockey this year. It’s too early to call that class “bad”. Even Radek Faksa had 0.27 PPG this year who I was thinking would be a major bust. Even Ryan Murray was able to play 82 games, lol. And quietly looked good doing it. Definetly to early to call it a bad draft.

  • PrairieStew

    Make it known to the agents for all of these goalies (except Scrivens) that there is a 1 year $3 m contract available. First guy to get here gets a chance to start 50 games.

  • McRib

    Pittsburgh started Matt Murray tonight in the playoffs for his second win (31 save shutout)…. Honestly it’s time to drop the whole Murray pipe dreams. Lol.