What are the Flames going to do with all these goalies?

Earlier today the Calgary Flames made the signing of goalie Tom McCollum official, bringing the total number of goaltenders under contract to seven. Granted, Nick Schneider is currently with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers (and has an impressive 5-1-1 record thus far), but that still leaves six bodies in various levels of professional hockey.

So what are the Flames going to do with all these goalies?

THE GOALIES

  • Brian Elliott: 31, contract expires following 2016-17 season, will be a UFA
  • Chad Johnson: 30, contract expires following 2016-17 season, will be a UFA
  • Jon Gillies: 22, contract expires following 2016-17 season, will be an RFA
  • David Rittich: 24, contract expires following 2016-17 season, will be an RFA
  • Tom McCollum: 26, contract expires following 2017-18 season, will be a UFA
  • Mason McDonald: 20, contract expires following 2018-19 season, will be an RFA
  • Nick Schneider: 19, contract expires following 2019-20 season, will be an RFA
  • Tyler Parsons: 19, doesn’t have a contract, must be signed by June 1, 2018 or else Flames lose his rights

THIS SEASON

So here’s the gist: Elliott and Johnson are on one-ways and barring something catastrophic, they’re Calgary’s NHL goalkeepers for this season. Gillies, Rittich and McDonald are on entry-level deals, which means the Flames can bounce them freely between the AHL and ECHL without a care. McCollum is on a non entry-level deal, so he can’t be sent to the ECHL without permission.

Gillies is the top goalie prospect at the moment and he’s the top guy in Stockton. McCollum can’t be sent to the ECHL without permission. Just about every other AHL club already has two good goalies, so loaning Rittich or McCollum to one of them probably isn’t an option. In other words: Rittich is probably going to the ECHL. For what it’s worth, the current plan is reportedly for the Heat to roll with three goalies for the time being.

Neither Schneider nor Parsons factors in this season, as they’re both junior-aged.

NEXT SEASON

Currently with contracts for 2017-18: McCollum, McDonald and Schneider. The Flames will also retain the rights for Gillies and Rittich, presuming they qualify both of them. And presumably the Flames will try to retain at least one of Elliott and Johnson. Schneider will be 20 and able to go back to the WHL as an overager, but his contract will have already slid twice (so it’ll be running regardless of where he plays). Parsons will also be 20 (in terms of the CBA, the CHL/NHL transfer agreement and the AHL). 

That’s a lot of goalies.

As we’ve previously mentioned the tough thing here is that the Flames essentially have to project what Gillies is going to be next season by December or January, because otherwise they’ll have to figure out what they need in terms of an NHL backup. 

The current working theory is that the Flames will extend Elliott and probably roll with him and Gillies in the NHL (unless Gillies is awful this year). That would leave them with some combination of McCollum and one of McDonald, Rittich, Schneider and Parsons in the AHL and one or more of McDonald, Schneider and Parsons in the ECHL. And Schneider and Parsons could both simply go back to junior, kicking the problem of where to put them at the pro level down the field for another year.

Life would be easier if the Flames just decided not to qualify Rittich, but that also ignores the fact that he’s a free asset, he hasn’t played at all yet, and he might be pretty good.

IN OTHER WORDS

I think we’re destined to see a few moves in terms of goaltenders over the next year, with at least one body probably moving to another organization. There are simply too many bodies wearing big pads and cool-looking masks and too few professional jobs for 2017-18 to divvy up among them.

  • wot96

    “For what it’s worth, the current plan is reportedly for the Heat to roll with three goalies for the time being.”

    Yes, the three headed monster worked so well for the Flames last year, let’s see how it works in Stockton.

    SMH

    • The GREAT WW

      Talking about shaking your head; think about the brainiacs who thought it was a good idea to pick MacDonald when Demko was still on the board…..

      WW

          • Stu Cazz

            Think about what you are saying. MacDonald was a 2nd round pick for a team that had not made the playoffs since hell froze over. Because MacDonald is a dud they were forced again to use a 2nd rounder and selected Parson’s this past draft. Potentially when you draft that high you would address a need…how would a high scoring right winger look in the 2016 draft ??

          • wot96

            Okay, I’ll bite. Who should we have picked as a scoring RW, presumably a right shot RW? Any right winger they wanted was still on the board. Two picks later they picked Dube and the intervening pick was a defenceman.

            They didn’t choose Abramov or Raddysh or anyone that they could have picked. The fact is, they just didn’t want to use the pick on RW at that point in the draft.

            Now, if you are saying how good would a RW have looked in the 2014 draft in lieu of MacDonald, well, there were three RW’s picked between MacDonald and Hunter Smith. None of those picks have I ever heard of (well, one I vaguely recall).

            The reality is that the Flames scouting staff did not like the RW choices available.

          • brodiegio4life

            so instead of parsons who was voted best goalie in the ohl btw, the flames would’ve got a RW who according to you is guaranteed to be a superstar because apparently we’ll regret not getting that RW for a decade… yup ok

          • The GREAT WW

            You guys are missing the point; we were always going to pick a goalie early in 2016. BB always picks a goalie early every second year.

            The difference would have been we would have had Demko (who was the consensus #1 goalie at the draft) instead of MacDonald (who is probably a great kid, not his fault BB and BT thought they were smarter than everyone else…).

            And now Vancouver has Demko…..

            WW

          • Rockmorton65

            The only way we regret that pick is if Demko goes on to a hall of fame career and Gillies ends up working at a burger joint. Quite frankly, I see both as a long shot.

            Even after we took Kidd before Brodeur, at the end of the day, it didn’t matter, because we had Kipper. Same thing here. We have Gillies, so a miss with the McDonald pick isn’t the end of the world.

            If Demko becomes the “next Lundqvist/Price/Quick” and Gillies busts, I will stand naked in front of the Dome preaching the gospel of the Great WW. Until then, I’d ease up on the Demko worship.

  • MontanaMan

    He’s still young but the confidence factor in McDonald is likely waning. The future in net for the Flames is Gillies and Parsons. Elliott and Johnson will hold the fort for the next few years, with Gillies likely assuming the backup position in the next year or two. The challenge may be getting Elliott to sign a deal for no more than three years while Gillies and Parsons round into shape.

  • Newbietwo

    Don’t be surprised if Gillies absolutely shines this year and Johnson as well that it is Johnson they extended for three plus years at lower cap hit and rolling with Gillies and him.. Not sure all that likely as Gillies is two years or perhaps but still a possibility

  • McRib

    David Rittich looked downright medicore in my viewings this summer, he can be cut loose soon. Glad Nick Schneider is playing well, I really liked his upside his draft year and I feel he never got enough credit this summer for his strong play at developmental camp. Schenider started off last year slowly, but down the stretch he was great for Medicine Hat who came out of nowhere to challenge for the playoffs. He’s been a 0.910+ Save Percentage for most of last season and this year and he has plenty of filling out left.

    • Stu Cazz

      Agree…from what I have seen of Rittich he has not looked impressive given that he is an older player. I particularly liked Schneider’s work in Stockton last year as an 18 year old he was very impressive and cool under pressure.

      Given that Gillies has lost a year due to injury I potentially see him in Stockton beyond the next year. He is the future and when ready he will free up one of Elliott or Johnson in return for a high draft choice or level A prospect…..

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    A lot of people deciding of Flames goaltending future based on 3 NHL games and 1 AHL game. Oh, and some pre-season games without a lot of talent in the lineup.

    McCollum establishes the exposure need, but there is no reason that Elliott and Johnson aren’t both given extensions. McCollum has played very few NHL games to date, so I doubt he is going to be a NHL backup next season. Gillies may be ready for backup duties by next season, but that doesn’t give him much time to develop.

    Until we see about 10 games from each of those 5 guys, there’s really no point in saying which ones make the cut.

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    A lot of people deciding of Flames goaltending future based on 3 NHL games and 1 AHL game. Oh, and some pre-season games without a lot of talent in the lineup.

    McCollum establishes the exposure need, but there is no reason that Elliott and Johnson aren’t both given extensions. McCollum has played very few NHL games to date, so I doubt he is going to be a NHL backup next season. Gillies may be ready for backup duties by next season, but that doesn’t give him much time to develop.

    Until we see about 10 games from each of those 5 guys, there’s really no point in saying which ones make the cut.

  • Stu Cazz

    I specifically remember Brad Pascall as Macdonald’s champion in that draft. Although BT is ultimately responsible he was new to the organization and relied on his management. Bad start for Pascall and he should be held accountable if indeed he was the guy convincing the organization to draft MacDonald over Demko…

  • jupiter

    Off topic Ryan, but when are you gonna write a article titled “What are we going to do with Wideman”

    There are still people who believe he has trade value. His game has been diminishing for a few years,and he has become an overpaid and underwhelming player on the team. There are many free agent signings that turn out the same way, and it’s pretty hard to feel sorry for a guy making 5.75 mill a year for playing a game.

    However, i’d like to know if anyone else thinks that Wideman has been caught up in a political mess between the NHL brass {he intentionally broke the linesman back}the officials {this is the battle we must win}the NHLPA {not sure were they stand}the Media{over-hyped.

    I’am not sure whats happening with Bettmans appeal, but feel that Wideman and the Flames have been treated poorly throughout this 3 ring circus.Wideman did not intentionally hurt Henderson.