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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson / USA TODAY Sports

Flames swap goalies: David Rittich up, Jon Gillies down

It wouldn’t be the last morning of the Calgary Flames’ regular season if not for a few curiosities. The club announced this morning that goaltender David Rittich has been recalled from the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat, with Jon Gillies being re-assigned to Stockton. It’s effectively a swap of AHL goalies.

Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson had the most logical explanation for the move.

Rittich, 24, is in the midst of a really strong first season in North America after spending a few seasons playing in his native Czech Republic. He’s quietly one of the strongest goalies in the entire AHL: his 2.30 goals against average is 10th, he’s tied for second in shutouts and is ninth in save percentage.

Gillies 23, just won his first NHL start. Despite not being as great as Rittich this season, he’s younger than his teammate and is a player the Flames expended resources (a third round pick) to get, so there’s a bit more of a need to develop him than exists with Rittich. It probably shouldn’t be shocking to learn that he’s started more often in Stockton than Rittich despite having worse numbers.

It’s unlikely that anybody but Brian Elliott will start a game for the Flames from here on out. But Gillies is young and needs to play, so the emphasis seems to be on rotating goalies from the AHL so that Gillies gets playing time in. If Rittich isn’t playing in either league, arguably there’s less at stake because he’s much further along in his development and arguably much more of a finished product.

Depending on whether Nashville has won in Winnipeg or not in the early game, there’s a chance we could see Rittich make his NHL debut at some point tonight.

  • Alberta Ice

    Lots of future goal tending questions for the Flames. Gillies played great against LA and it would be special now to see Rittich play tonight. Tyler Parsons 46 save shut out of the Erie Otters the other night added to his impressive growing resume. Could he be a Carey Price type find?

  • BringtheFire

    I think that the more important question is what’s up with Johnson? We’re going into the playoffs without our proven backup tender and I’m not sure when he’ll will be back.

    Chad’s injury concerns me greatly.

  • RKD

    Gillies looked pretty solid in his debut, would be interesting to see Rittich get some playing time tonight even if he backs up Elliott. I wonder how bad the Johnson injury is, Johnson flew back to Calgary to get treated. Will Chad Johnson back up Brian Elliott come game 1 of the playoffs?

  • L13

    “Despite not being as great as Rittich this season, he’s younger than his teammate and is a player the Flames expended resources (a third round pick) to get, so there’s a bit more of a need to develop him than exists with Rittich. It probably shouldn’t be shocking to learn that he’s started more often in Stockton than Rittich despite having worse numbers.”

    “If Rittich isn’t playing in either league, arguably there’s less at stake because he’s much further along in his development and arguably much more of a finished product.”

    I agree that’s probably what the Flames are thinking, but Rittich is less than two years older than Gillies. Neither of them is in the first bloom of youth in terms of development and it strikes me as unfair to Rittich that Gillies is getting preferential treatment when Rittich has outperformed him by every metric.