Last season, the Calgary Flames had some problems – you might have heard. One of their big issues was that they were the worst National Hockey League club in terms of goaltending. Their save percentage was bad – an .898 overall. Their American Hockey League club in Stockton wasn’t much better, posting a disappointing .896 save percentage overall.
So it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that the Flames had planned off-season changes in goal. Last season’s goaltenders on NHL contracts included Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller, Jon Gillies, Kevin Poulin, Joni Ortio and Niklas Backstrom (along with AHLer Kent Simpson). Gillies is the only surviving member of that group, and probably because (a) he was the only individual with a contract for 2016-17 and (b) he missed all of the games after November 6 due to hip surgery. Everybody else has been jettisoned (and when you see the results from last season, it’s hard to argue against it).
Indeed, the Flames have very purposefully changed the net-minding guard throughout the organization.
“No, it wasn’t by accident,” shared Treliving following the introductory press conference for Chad Johnson and Troy Brouwer. “When I had talked about it is we wanted to
obviously add depth, but it wasn’t just at the NHL level. We think Jon [Gillies]
is a good young goalie, Mason McDonald is a good young goalie. We signed
David Rittich, again, who our European guys like. He’s a young goalie,
you’ve got some depth there. Beyond that you’ve got [Nick] Schneider and
[Tyler] Parsons we drafted.”
The goalies with active contracts for 2016-17 are Brian Elliott, Johnson, Gillies, Rittich, McDonald and Schneider (whose deal will likely slide). Departing the organization this off-season are Hiller (signed in Switzerland), Backstrom (signed in Finland), Poulin (not given a qualifying offer), Ortio (also not qualified) and Ramo (injured and likely not offered a contract). The changeover in personnel appears to be part of an effort to upgrade the team’s reserve list.
Treliving explained the moves in the context of building the organization’s overall depth.
“Building a team isn’t just the 23 you see here, it’s
building your reserve list,” said Treliving. “Eighteen months ago when I came in here, I
believe that you built your teams on the blueline and in goal and from
there and up center ice, so when you look at where our defense reserve
list was 18 months ago to where it is today, where our goaltender
reserve list was 18 months ago from today, we drafted and will continue
to draft a bunch of centers every year, that’s the strength of where
teams are built. So it’s not by accident we’ve added some bodies, now
it’s up to those guys to continue to develop and strengthen. But I think
we’ve got some guys that have a real chance.”
In terms of the two goaltenders on one-way deals, recent acquisitions Elliott and Johnson, Treliving indicated a general sense of satisfaction with his moves of the past couple of weeks.
“Well, we’ve got two of them…,” joked Treliving. “I tried the three thing last year and… We’re real comfortable. I think they’re both good goalies, both real good guys and real competitive guys. They work, and I think they’ll push each other, they’ll support each other… We haven’t played any games yet, but I like where we’re sitting.”