Potential goalie trade targets for the Flames

[ed. MattyFranchise is back with a follow-up guest post! Last time, he looked at UFA goalies; today, it’s other options who will cost something to acquire.]

This time around I will be looking at a number of currently signed or upcoming restricted free agent goaltenders. These players range from intriguing low cost options, to older goaltenders being forced out of the starting position by their backups, to young up and comers that may be available for the right price, to absolute long shots. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which. 

My intention here is to look solely at the numbers of players that Flames GM Brad Treliving may currently be targeting to shore up arguably their greatest weakness heading into next season. 

The stats I’ll be examining are the same as the ones I looked at for the UFA goaltenders: shots against per 60 minutes, unadjusted and adjusted save percentages, as well as their ability to stop shots with varying degrees of difficulty, in three different situations of play: 5 on 5, shorthanded, and all situations. Team penalty killing percentages are included for context for the shorthanded numbers.

These goaltenders are listed in order of age and include their 2015-16 regular season records. All contract values are per season, time remaining is from the 2016-17 season onward and includes the player’s status at the time of expiry. All contract information from General Fanager.

Player Age Team Games Played Record Contract
Mike Smith 34 Arizona Coyotes 32 15-13-2 $5.6 million, 3 years, UFA
Jimmy Howard 32 Detroit Red Wings 37 14-14-5 $5.29 million, 3 years, UFA
Brian Elliot 31 St. Louis Blues 42 23-8-6 $2.5 million, 1 year, UFA
Thomas Greiss 30 New York Islanders 41 23-11-4 $1.5 million, 1 year, UFA
Ben Bishop 29 Tampa Bay Lightning 61 35-21-4 $5.95 million, 1 year, UFA
Anders Nilsson 26 Edmonton Oilers/St. Louis Blues 29 (26 Oilers, 3 Blues) 10-13-2 RFA
Frederik Andersen 26 Anaheim Ducks 43 22-9-3 RFA
Darcy Kuemper 25 Minnesota Wild 21 6-7-5 RFA
Jake Allen 25 St. Louis Blues 43 26-15-3 $2.35 million, 1 year, RFA
John Gibson 22 Anaheim Ducks 38 21-13-4 $2.3 million, 3 years, RFA
Matt Murray 21 Pittsburgh Penguins 13 9-2-1 $620K, 1 year, RFA

A quick note on Nilsson before we jump into the stats: he played 88 minutes over three games, all in relief, for St. Louis so I’ve chosen to discount those minutes and focus solely on his time in Edmonton, where he played 1,414 minutes. All stats from War On Ice.

Even Strength


With the Flames likely to repeat as a negative possession team next season the one thing that immediately interests me is how these goalies handled their respective workloads. At the top for SA/60 at 5on5 we see that Mike Smith, Anders Nilsson, and Thomas Greiss had the most amount of work to do while they were playing. 

Smith moved comfortably into a 1a/1b role in Arizona this season with Louis Domingue, and performed admirably at 5on5. The only one that did better was Brian Elliot, but he also faced almost four fewer shots per 60 than Smith did. 

The goalie that really interests me so far is Greiss. He had the third highest workload, the fourth highest SV% and the second highest high danger SV%, all at $1.5 million for one more season. Oh, he’s also only 30 so he likely has at least another 3-4 seasons worth of quality left.

At the other end of the list for SV% we have Nilsson, Jimmy Howard, and John Gibson. I don’t think the Flames have a reasonable shot at either of the Anaheim goalies, but if I were to target one of them it would be Andersen. Gibson performed only marginally better than Howard at evens while facing by far the least amount of shots per 60 than every other goaltender listed. Nilsson, unfortunately, is just terrible even if he would be the easiest goaltender to acquire.




While Nilsson faced over 60 shots against per 60 while he was in Edmonton, he also ended up with the lowest SH SV% to go along with it. Elliot wasn’t that far behind Nilsson in St. Louis for workload, but managed a far superior SV% while helping the Blues to the third best penalty kill in the league. 

The best shorthanded goalies however are Gibson, Darcy Kuemper, and Matt Murray. Ben Bishop and Elliot round out the top five. 

There are two things that I want to draw particular attention to. Number one is Murray’s outstanding numbers here; he’s in the top three for pretty much everything when down a man. On the other hand, this data dump represents the entirety of his NHL regular season career. All 13 games of it. Given his age and experience I don’t think that backing up the Brinks truck for him is the prudent thing to do.

The other is Kuemper’s massive high danger SV% when playing shorthanded. I have no idea what he’s doing or how he’s doing it but he is absolutely making the stops that need to be made on the PK from in close. When we look at average value for this stat ending up around 83% and then Kuemper comes along and blows it out of the water, my immediate thought was that there is no way this is repeatable, let alone sustainable, but I was wrong. He did the same thing last season, only better coming in at 95.45% for high danger chances against.

All Situations


In all situations over the entire season there are a few things to make note of. In order of SV% the only number one goaltender for his current team is Bishop (third). Of the other desirable trade targets for the Flames, most of the players platooned with somebody this season. Elliot had the best SV%, but also split time fairly evenly with Jake Allen (sixth). John Gibson (fifth) split his season with Andersen (seventh). Greiss (fourth) split his season with Jaroslav Halak and Jean-Francois Berube. Matt Murray (second) has obviously been stellar in his very limited sample of regular season games but he’s only 21, still on an ELC, and likely won’t be going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

We know historically that most goaltenders begin to round into form around 25-26 years of age with their primes coming around 30. There’s a lot that can go wrong before Murray is well and truly established. To put this into perspective, would anyone be comfortable trading a Johnny Gaudreau for Andrew Hammond? Because that could very well be the cost of getting Murray out of Pittsburgh, and there’s a very real chance that once Murray is further along in his development he could settle into the Hammond range of ability.

All things considered, my primary targets are Brian Elliot, Thomas Greiss, and Ben Bishop. Bishop is the only proven starter on the list that is still in his prime, but he also comes with the most expensive contract, even if it is only for one more season. Elliot and Greiss also only have one more year on their contracts, but they are nowhere near as expensive as Bishop, but with comparable numbers. 

Along with Elliot and Greiss’ contracts being the most palatable, I believe the cost to acquire them would also be the most acceptable. What puts Elliot and Griess over the edge for me is their high danger SV%. Elliot and Greiss are first and second in this area while Bishop is fifth.

    • deantheraven

      Best yes, most expensive no.
      Older UFAs and Bishop will all cost more than a 2nd pro contract for either of these two.

      if we’re gonna deal assets (and we’d have to), these two would be the best targets.

  • Canrock 78

    I would like to wish Peter Loubardias a speedy recovery. I don’t think there is a more passionate hockey fan in calgary. For all the hyperbole haters out there you should listen to the interview on the fan 960.

    The world would be better place if more people took the time to care about the people around them instead of thinking of the them selves.

  • Mcline

    I don’t think the Flames have a shot at any of these goalies apart from Smith, Howard, Nillson, or Murray.

    St. Louis Blues would not give up either of their two current goalies who are signed to good deals for one more season.

    Andersen might come, but Anaheim won’t do much business with division rivals.

    Bishop is not going for cheap, and he’s most likely not going to the Flames who have young scoring forwards needing big contract extensions (Exactly what TBL already has) .

    Flames best bet is going for an old worn out goalie like Howard or Smith to attempt to fix the atrocious goaltending system they have.

    But then again that won’t fix much because the majority of the cap will be going to the forwards.

  • nikkomsgb

    Teams like Anaheim, Tampa and Pittsburgh are going to be caught in a tough situation if the NHL approves expansion.

    Not many teams seem to need a #1 goalie and they can’t protect both of theirs….enter Brad Treliving.

    I doubt we are going to steal a #1, but I just don’t know how much leverage GMs have if they are facing losing a quality asset. Fingers crossed we can come up with a Dougie Hamilton type deal (excluding our first this year) for an Andersen.

    • wot96

      This is an excellent point (minus the part about Andersen because I just don’t see him being available to an in-division rival). But why make a trade for a potential number one goalie now when you can get one for less, maybe, once expansion is announced?

      Arguably the Flames would have been in the hunt with merely league average goaltending. A true number 1 too early could easily force a premature exit to this rebuild. Prematurity is bad. Bad, bad, bad.

      • nikkomsgb

        Again I’m not arguing that we are going to fleece anyone, but looking at the circumstance…a team like Anaheim might not have a lot of outs.

        Most teams are settled in their goaltending (with established #1s) and assuming that expansion is announced, what leverage do teams with two solid goalies have? They will take the best deal, or risk losing the asset. Even if Anaheim refuses to deal to us and someone else grabs Andersen, it takes up one of the few potential landing spots and creates more of a buyers market for the remaining goalies in a similar situation.

        Also we are going to be finding out about expansion prior to the draft, so there is no time to trade prior to the announcement anyways.

        Frankly I think could be a fantastic opportunity for us, provided the expansion goes ahead. BT has proven himself to be shrewd in his trade negotiations, and hopefully we are poised to benefit from other’s excess goaltending.

        As for premature exit…. no one is suggesting this would signal a time to start picking up rentals and such. We need to solidify ourselves in net, and if that is enough to get us into the playoffs…then who’s going to complain about that?

      • deantheraven

        I wish I could ‘prop’ this one more than once.
        I’d be all over bringing in a cheap, league- average type like Greiss or Elliot to play with Ortio to play to the expansion draft. I even suggested they sign Backstrom to a cheap 1-year deal to mentor the fellow Finnish kid. I’d bet the first 2 months on league-average ‘tending from those two. That would mean the other more pressing contracts can be signed & not have us up against the cap next year, and not have to worry about having to protect two goalies come Expansion Draft Day. Maybe even steal one…

        If we’re dealin’ however, we’re going to have to swing for the fences, meaning an Andersen or Murray, meaning a pick and a prospect going the other way. Which is doable, Anaheim and Pttsburgh would like a prospect defenseman. We’ve got some of those to spare. We’d have to and sign the either of them to a nice offer- preferably to a mid-sized deal with term. Which could also work.
        And as long as the pick isn’t our highest 1st (remember to pray for the lottery win and cheer on those Stars!), I think Treliving would do that too.
        That would mean we sign & hold onto the new #1 and leave Ortio exposed to Quebec or Vegas or whoever, leaving us Gillies and Macdonald in the pipeline.
        I could live with that.

  • T&A4Flames

    I think Kuemper would be a good target for the Flames. He’s only 25 and showed decent enough #’s. He’ll be coming into hi prime and wouldn’t be surprised to see him take off next year. He also shouldn’t cost too much to acquire as MIN already has Dubnyk locked up and are in a bit of cap crunch. It’d be difficult for them to resign him.

    • MattyFranchise

      If anyone is going anywhere in Pittsburgh it’s going to be Zatkoff. There’s no way the Penguins start next season with a Zatkoff/Murray combo. Who would start for them anyway? What happens if Murray falls off a cliff next season and loses 10 games in a row with no veteran support to help him through it? The Penguins aren’t going to Oiler there best goaltending prospect. No way.

      • supra steve

        And what happens if Murray carries them through a significant playoff run? I can totally see Fleury being available if Murray steals the net. That would open up a lot of cap space for the Pens.

        • Baalzamon

          What would be the point of the Flames picking up Fleury though? They’d just want to move him again in a year or two for the same reason the Pens supposedly want to move him now.

          • supra steve

            I wasn’t arguing that the Flames should or should not acquire Fleury, just said that he COULD possibly be available. He has 3 more years at $5.75 million cap hit, and he is 31 years old. If that contract had 2 years left, it would make him more attractive, but 3 years could be doable…for the right acquisition price.

        • MattyFranchise

          See Andrew Hammond example. The Pens aren’t going to risk it. I am sure of it. They need a plan b and that plan b is certainly not zatkoff if they don’t have fleury. If I’m wrong and Fleury gets traded I’ll be the first one to admit it but I just don’t see it happening.

  • T&A4Flames

    Getting a goalie with 2 years term remaining I think would be ideal as I think it will give us time to properly assess Gillies and see if he is going to be that #1 we hope he will be. I’m also ok getting back a 3 year contract if it comes with a sweetener to help a team with cap issues. Both 2 and 3 year contracts also allow us to expose a higher cap to reach the 25% necessary as well as protecting Gillies (if he does need protecting) or Ortio if he starts to show that he is ready to take the next step.

    Swapping Wideman to a team like DAL for Lehtonen or Niemi at least moves the $ back to an area of need. And if it comes with a player like Nichushkin, who can play RW, it fills 2 holes, with Nuke being younger and still growing into a player. Maybe Wideman and 2 X 2nds for Lehtonen and Nuke (maybe DAL will even retain salary or take back another bad contract like Bollig or better, Raymond or Smid).

    We are still in a rebuild after all. Why not use all the leverage we can to add youth.

    • nikkomsgb

      Bishop would be amazing, but he is about to hit his UFA years and already commands $5.9 million. The risk of him asking for north of $7 million and ultimately walking would outweigh the benefit of having him for one year, at least in my opinion.

      Ideally we should want an RFA, so that we have a little control. We should not part with assets just to see someone walk in 12 months.

  • maggotbrain

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Elliott here. He’s a solid goalie, still not too old, he’d be cheaper than some of these other guys and he’d be a good teacher for Ortio and Gillies while they try solidify themselves. I don’t think we have the currency to be trading for one of the younger guys without giving up a stud in return.

  • Baalzamon

    I’ve always liked Greiss, even though I seem to periodically forget he exists. Not sure what would prompt the Islanders to move him, though. He’s been putting in some good hockey for them lately, and he’s cheap. Still, maybe they’re afraid thay’d lose him for nothing.

  • Kevin R

    Ari, you needed to do a conclusion what goalies will actually be available. Like earlier said, Elliott has just lead the Blues past the first round & slayed the dragon in how many years. He aint going nowhere any time soon, same as Allen. So strike them off the list.

    Anaheim will not give Calgary Andersen. No way no how. Maybe for a ridiculous over pay & we would just laugh hysterically. Scratch him off the list. Ditto for Gibson.

    Bishop is a beast. Yzerman is patient to a fault, he will cross that Bishop bridge next year at the TDL, but not until he has a complete grasp of what he has with his tenders. Scratch Bishop off the list for this summer.

    Griess just got the Islanders past the panthers & looked good doing so. He’s cheap & Halak is an injury prone hurter. There is absolutely no reason they trade him.

    I would love to get my hands on Murray, but Pens are saying uh uh. They will go into next year with Fluery & Murray & depending on how that goes, I can see them leaving Fluery exposed & it would be a win win for Rutherford. If he gets picked off, they get badly needed cap space, if not, they have a real sweet 1-2 goalie punch. Scratch Murray off that list.

    Smith on Arizona? Nope, Arizona needs his horrible contract to get to the cap floor & they are totally loyal to him like we were with Kipper. Yotes aren’t moving him.

    So that leaves you Nillson & Kuemper, uhhhh…. nah. Howard & as previously mentioned, Niemi or Lehtonen could be had. & the good thing about any of those options are 1/ They are capable of providing average NHL goaltending 2/They are potentially a salary dump for the other teams so we can probably dump Wideman & not eat any salary & not have to add any sweetener to the deal. 3/They can be exposed to any potential expansion draft & no one on FN will lose any sleep about it.

    Then we can resign Ortio to cheap deal & get the 1 year bridge before we really go goalie shopping.

  • Stan

    Arii, this was a good article until you absolutely ruined at the end with your outrageous hypothesis as to what it would take to get Murray out of Pittsburgh. You seriously think the Flames would have to trade the fifth highest scoring forward in the entire NHL, who is only 22 years old, to get an unproven but high-end goalie prospect?

    Even if you didn’t mean that & just meant it would require a player of similar caliber or potential as Gaudreau, well…. you are absolutely out to lunch.

      • Stan

        Ah, it would appear my anger at the suggestion of trading Gaudreau is misplaced. I just saw Arii’s name at the bottom of the post – thanks for the correction.

        In other news, HOW DARE YOU MATTYFRANCHISE

        • MattyFranchise

          No fricken way I’d trade Gaudreau. I’m just saying that’s what kind of price tag the kid likely has. I wanted to draw particular attention to it because he is who the regulars here seem to want and quite frankly getting him is a pipe dream. At best.

  • KiLLKiND

    Why not look into trading for Tampa’s other goalies and leave them with Bishop? They clearly like Bishop and he is still going to be good when their team is. Their younger goalies Vasilevskiy is amazing and only 21. If not him then look into trading for the unreal Latvian goalie that is 23 Kristers Gudlevskis. Either way both would be far cheaper cap wise and would have more long term value than Bishop. Personally I think best case scenario we sign one of; Ramo, Reimer, Raanta, Enroth to a short contract while Gilles develops for a year or two. Ortio can backup and learn from _______. After that we can have Ortio Gilles tandem with McDonald starting in the AHL.

    • T&A4Flames

      I think we all assume that Bishop would be the one that would need to go if TBL resigns Stamkos as they wouldn’t be able to afford his big cap hit anymore.

    • Baalzamon

      Gudlevskis isn’t “unreal”. He’s a nearly-mediocre AHL-level goalie who occasionally posts a great game. His AHL results are similar to Leland Irving’s from a few years ago. He would not be an improvement over Ortio and would almost certainly be a downgrade.

  • The Fall

    I’m one of the few who believe Bishop will not be available, because Tampa will not re sign Stamkos.

    All things considered they don’t need him. And Stevie Y is pragmatic enough to know that an injury prone player is not worth the largest contract in NHL history.

  • KACaribou

    Before we go buy a goalie, does anyone have the following information?

    I would love to see goalie save percentages with High Quality Scoring Chances separated from total shots, PP or not.

    I think that would be an interesting and possibly more fair way of comparing goalies.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the Flames were already using this comparison.

    Being that we have already established through analytics that the Flames give up more High Quality Scoring Chances than opponents (they also produce more), it would be a more fair way of judging the goalies we have; before throwing caution to the wind to get another goalie who will suddenly be faced with more High Quality Scoring Chances than he is used to.

    • MattyFranchise

      High Danger SV% is essentially the goalies SV% against high danger scoring chances.

      If you go and look at the picture that I provided at the top of the previous article (which is linked at the top of this one) you see that area 1 is the high danger scoring chance area, 2 is the regular old scoring chance area, and 3 is the area from which goalies shouldn’t be getting scored on in the first place.

      There is some wiggle room when comparing high percentage shooting areas to high danger scoring chances as the definition is somewhat different. What the exact differences are? Well that will take someone much smarter than me to figure out. I’ve looked all over the place and I can’t find any explanation for what the difference exactly is.

      Remember that scoring chances is a relatively new metric and the exact definition varies from person to person. This is the reason why I chose the well established Low/Medium/High percentage shot breakdown over trying to suss out what exactly constitutes a high danger scoring chance. From what I’ve gathered, high danger seems to mean from right in front of the net so that’s what I went with and hopefully it will give you a better idea of how any potential goaltender is going to handle the Flames HSCF% deficit.

      Hope that helps.

      • KACaribou

        First, thank you for taking the time to comment.

        The problem I find is that there seems to be a difference between a high danger area, in front of the net, and a quality scoring opportunity.

        Okay the puck is bouncing around in front and the player takes a shot. He doesn’t get much of it, and it slips right to the goalie’s pads. It may have been in a high danger area, but because he didn’t have long to take the shot he fanned on it and it really wasn’t much of a threat – yet it was in the “high danger zone” area.

        Compare that to a Flames D-man, say a rather tall fellow, about to get hit in the corner and instead gets rid of the puck. The puck goes to a streaking forward who gets a mini-breakaway that the goalie saves with an amazing glove on a puck heading to the top corner. That’s a quality scoring chance.

        I guess differentiating between the two, I would like to see saves broken down into some different categories. 1) shots from the point which were not screened. 2) shots taken where the goalie has no opportunity to see. 3) shots taken from a high danger position. 4) shots taken that were quality scoring chances. 5) Goals scored that the goalie had no chance on, either because of a great pass or deflection(s).

        The problem with stats is that they can so easily be incomplete. A QB passing to a receiver. Right in his hands, he drops it. The incompletion goes against the QB. In baseball, a fielder makes and error on a play he should have made so the run doesn’t count against the pitcher because it was deemed that it should have been an out.

        I wish NHL goalies were given the same courtesy.

      • KACaribou

        That’s save percentage from high danger areas, I am looking for save percentage from quality scoring chances. Two different things unless I am mistaken.

  • Baalzamon

    What about Jaroslav Halak? The Islanders might be amenable to sticking with Greiss going forward, and dropping Halak’s salary might enable them to re-sign Kyle Okposo.

    • MattyFranchise

      Halak has 4.5 million left for 3 more seasons which when combined with his injury history puts him in the Mike Smith/Jimmy Howard area of goaltenders.

      Okposo hits free agency this offseason and I’ll be damned if it wouldn’t be awesome to have him on the top line RW instead.

        • freethe flames

          How much would either he or Okposo going to cost? Where are you going to find the money? I love the ideas of ideas of signing expensive UFA’s when we have a salary issue. Let me know how BT will move the dead weight salaries, then we can talk expensive UFA’s.

          • Burnward

            Ohhhh ye of little faith.

            First I buy out Raymond.

            Trade Wideman and a fifth to Carolina for a seventh.

            Trade Engellend and a fourth to T.O for a seventh.

            Trade Stajan and a fourth to Zona for a seventh.

            Trade Colborne and Klimchuk for Tatar.

            Sign Backes 4 x 5.5.

            Sign Reimer 3 x 4.0












      • Baalzamon

        Halak only has two years left on his deal, which is perfect. Also, he’s a better keeper than Smith or (especially) Howard. It isn’t close.

        And I’ve got to be honest with you. Okposo really doesn’t interest me. Like, at all.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Maintain present course. Ortio starts and Ramo backs up. I would consider doing this if an expansion draft is announced later this year because leading up to the draft, which could happen as early as 2017, teams will be moving goalies for a dime to the dollar rather than lose the goalie for nothing. Deals will be made and bargains will be had.

    Don’t overpay now for a Jimmy Howard or a Cameron Ward.

    If the Flames are going to go with a guy who has always been a backup, such as Pickard from the article, it makes more sense to go with what they got in the short term. Why gamble on some other team’s backup unless you have a strong reason to believe he can be a true No.1 or you have no domestic options in net.

    Did I mention that by not going with a bad-contracted Jimmy Howard or a badly overpriced Benny Bishop, the Flames will have extra dough to spend over the summer.

    Why pay $100 for a blender on 07 December when you can get the same one for $40 on Boxing Day?