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Photo Credit: Candice Ward / USA Today Sports

WWYD Wednesday: What type of goalie to pursue?

The bad news this offseason is that the Calgary Flames are still looking for goaltending. The good news is there are lots of options.

Not only can Brad Treliving opt to bring back the good (but not great) duo the team had last year, he can also pursue the veteran free agents, established trade targets, or some of the young backups who should be available.

So what would you do? Dive into the free agent pool, trade for a “sure thing”, or gamble on a young up-and-comer?

Veterans UFAs

Aside from Chad Johnson and Brian Elliott, there will be a few vets looking for work in the offseason. Ben Bishop is the highest profile guy on the market, but there will also be Ryan Miller, Steve Mason, and Jonathan Bernier.

None of the options seem to be real upgrades over the Elliott/Johnson options aside from Bishop (even that’s arguable), but he’s a 30-year-old who is going to cost a pretty penny to sign (assuming the Stars don’t manage to ink him soon). Nevertheless, there are at least competent options in this group if all else fails or if the Flames aren’t willing to pay the price to acquire someone via trade.

Veteran trade

There are established options if Treliving decides to go the trade route as well. Marc-Andre Fleury has been linked to the Flames off-and-on for over a year now, and Pittsburgh still needs to move him to avoid losing Matt Murray to Vegas. Fleury is over 30 and comes with a relatively high price tag at $5.75M per year, but at least his contract ends in two years.

Another name who has come up a lot is the Coyotes’ Mike Smith. At 35, Smith is much closer to the end of his career than the start. Nevertheless, three of his last four seasons in front of an abysmal Coyotes team have been above average and he’ll likely come cheap in terms of a trade. His contract of $5.67M lasts another two seasons, which might be a bridge too far given his age.

Likewise, the Islanders will likely be looking to get out of the last year of Jaroslav Halak’s $5.0M contract. He fell out of favour last season, but chances are Halak is at least still a capable 1B-type option.

Young, backup trade

Finally, the Flames could gamble a bit and try to snag some of the young or intriguing backups that may be shaken loose by the expansion draft. That list includes Antti Raanta, Philipp Grubauer, Petr Mrazek and Calvin Pickard. Juuse Saros isn’t expansion eligible, but if the Predators are thinking about moving him after Pekka Rinne’s notable playoffs, he’s another name to add to the hat.

Young guys and backups have the benefit of being relatively cheap, but they are also relatively untested. A lot of these guys have really good results in small samples, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll be able to step in as a starter. Depending on the team they might be fairly expensive to acquire as well. Keep in mind, the Flames don’t have a second or third round pick in the upcoming draft, which could make putting a package together a bit more difficult.

Lots of options! Which path would you choose?

  • Chiz

    Veteran trade… Fleury. Two years left on the deal. Just enough time for the prospects to be ready to take over. Send Bouma or Stajan and a prospect to pitt. Or, in a perfect world, send Brouwer, but let’s not be too greedy.

    • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

      I’m not sure including Brouwer in a deal for Fleury is asking too much. We’re taking more salary than we are giving so that is an asset to Pitt whereas for us we’re spending money on a goalie we need for a short term commitment. The question is what would we have to give as the extra piece(s) to get them to take him. Could we get away with Shinkaruk or Mangiopane. Perhaps it might have to be one of our young D prospects like Kylington. That stings but it might get it done …

      • supra steve

        Fleury has 2 seasons left at $5.75 million ($11.5 total)and looks like he may well be worth his income over that period. Brouwer has 3 seasons at $4.5 ($13.5) and looks like a sure bet to not “earn” that with his level of play. For me, “We’re taking more salary than we are giving so that is an asset to Pitt” doesn’t pass the smell test.

      • everton fc

        I agree. The extra piece doesn’t need to be a “hot prospect”. In fact, I’d move Shinkaruk of Kylington, as we have a better idea who/what Shinkaruk is, than Kylington, who is still an interesting diamond in the rough. That said, the Pens will be looking more for defence – could Wotherspoon work as the extra piece? Again, the goal here is to convince Rutherford we are helping him free up needed cap space. Rutherford’s no dummy.

  • KH44

    Maybe a little of both? Fleury and a young backup could be a good combo, providing the salary of the backup is cheap, let the Flames have two years to transition the backup to starter.

  • Denscafon

    Go for Raanta/Grubauer or even Pickard. We already low on picks this year and these guys could be had for cheap compared to MAF who I think Rutherford would want our 16th overall pick.

  • C Watson

    Before doing anything Flames should first reevaluate Jordan Sigalet.
    Good Riddance to Ben Bishop!
    Interesting fact – Joonas Korpisalo, Jon Gillies, Matt Murray and Frederick Andersen all drafted in 2012 in the 3rd round.
    If unable to acquire either Raanta or Grubauer then maybe best to stick with Elliott or Johnson or both for another year.

  • kipper2004

    It will be a tough process for BT, as allot of the options come from the eastern conference which may provide bias for western conference play/experience. I do think Fluery or Halak are capable goalies compared to Elliot but are more expensive but have more experience overall which is important for a young team. Throw in a young guy like Grubauer and you have the best of both worlds, cagey vet and backup with potential to overtake the no. 1 job.

    • everton fc

      This is an interesting player. I think Korpisalo’s #’s in Sweden weren’t very good. I have this sneaky-positive feeling Rittich will be a very good goalie for us, very soon – which may not bode well for one of Gillies or Parsons. I’d like to see Rittich at least considered for platoon duty – but would Condon be able to platoon 50/50 w/Rittich for one season??

      I feel a vet w/Rittich or Gillies (Fleury, as mentor), is the way to go. We are not trying to win the Cup next season, are we? Still a rebuild. We have three goalie prospects in Rittich, Gillies and Parsons that may all be very decent NHL keepers. Time to test them. Fluery as the mentor – could be much worse.

      And I agree in the re-evaluation of Sigalet. Can anyone list a few quality, available goalie coaches??

  • BendingCorners

    Any trade for a goalie is likely to include one of our *exempt* goalie prospects plus another asset. It’s important not to overestimate the impact of the expansion draft since Vegas is open to side deals. Trading a prospect who might become a backup or starter for a backup who might become a starter and giving up a pick or another prospect as well seems unwise. Doing it for an established starter would make sense but the available starters at this point come with question marks due to age and history. Better I think to re-sign Johnson and develop our current prospects.
    As for Brower, we could trade him for somebody on the IR if there’s a team trying to reach the cap floor. It worked for Toronto.

  • McRib

    I like the idea of bringing in a young backup with upside to further the competition short term (and even long, though likely not necessary), one of Antti Raanta, Petr Mrazek, Philipp Grubauer, etc would work fine (not Calvin Pickard he is a stiff). I’m extremely confident Tyler Parsons is a star in the making, so no need to commit to a veteran long term. Just bring in competition to compete along the way with Parsons, Gillies, Rittich. Interestingly enough as Rob Volman has pointed out on Rob Kerrs drive home show in the past, future elite goaltenders actually arrive quicker than the general consensus peaking as early as age 22-23.

    Some will say “Goalies are voodoo” and not even Parsons is a surefire NHL netminder, but Parsons is as good of a NA Goalie Prospect since John Gibson and possibly even a Carey Price. Some will say “oh look at Thatcher Demko” even he struggled at times in the AHL this year, but to be honest I know a ton of NHL Scouts who weren’t convinced that he was a surefire starter, as he played in front of 5-6 future NHL defenseman at BC (Hanifin, Matheson, McCoshen, Santini, Fitzgerald, Savage, etc) and never really had a standout skill despite a sparkling save percentage (I still would have drafted him over Mason McDonald). Tyler Parsons on the other hand has some of the quickest reactions I have ever seen from a goaltending prospect and not a soul in the scouting community can find any weakness in his game.

    • Kevin R

      I am definitely onside with letting all 3 of Parsons, Gilles & Riitch compete for the backup, the consolation prize for the other two will be starting in Stockton with the knowledge that seeing none of them have to go through waivers, it will be very likely all of them will get some NHL action & NHL paycheques next year. Leave that backup spot wide open & let see who rises to the occasion. Who we get to man the pipes over the next few years must be NHL calibre, whether we go young with Grubaer or Raanta or Saros(do Preds protect Rinne?) we dump contract(cough…Brouwer) & target Fleury or Bobrovski or even Crawford. The backup spot needs to be left for one of our 3 best goalie prospects & lets see how they do. Im hoping Parsons comes to camp & pulls a Murray is light freaking out & makes the team come October.

    • Bob's Hockey Stick

      I largely agree with this line of thinking. I’m a bit suprised that Petr Mrazek isn’t getting more attention as an explorable trade option. With the expansion draft and the wings history with loving vet players. A swap of moose and something for Mrazek might be that shrewd “next talbot” type move. His contract and numbers are not terrible and he’s I believe not on the wrong side of 30. We’ve tried the vet goalie circle jerk and it’s not worked. What have we got to lose by trying something different ? Do I think this team can be competitive and a contender ? Yes it’s close. But we need a top 4 D, top line RW , and a starting goalie who can make a clutch save when the game’s on the line.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Parsons went through a stretch this season where he could not win in a shootout…. But that does not appear to be the case anymore…. I think it changed with the WJC Gold medal game.

  • Backburner

    I would give Elliott another shot if the price tag is right, otherwise the best option I see available it Raanta. He’s 27 and has 100 nhl games under his belt.

  • Theo4HoF

    Yuk… Don’t like any of these choices. This team will continue be Mediocre until they find a number one goalie. I bet the flames sign Elliott again. Typical flames to beat a dead horse. I wonder what washed up old player the flames will over pay this year?

  • #97TRAIN

    How much would it cost to sign Raanta?? Oilers had Talbot on the cheap till it looked like he could handle it and now have him on an extremely good deal.sign Elliot again and Raanta and see how it turns out.

    I don’t see many other options unless you bite the bullet and go after Bishop.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Maybe. What if Raanta does a Chad Johnson and has a hot month that saves the team’s bacon? Do I then have to listen to all the armchair GMs demanding the Flames give him a long-term deal long before the season is over?

        How many Flames fans would be cool if Tre had succumbed to the call of the loonies late last year and inked Johnson to a 3 or 4 year deal at $4M a pop as PS advocated on FN?

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I’m personally now past the “we’re not winning a cup next year” arguments we’ve heard for the last number of years – and I’ve seen them on this thread again.

    With the right off-season – why couldn’t we be right there? Look at what Ottawa is doing. Nashville as the Wildcard (who we stacked up nicely against in regular season play) looks poised to head to the cup final. Why can’t we be a contender by next year? This team is close and it didn’t take some of the fast riser teams like Chicago and LA to make the leap from mediocrity to contenders once they put a few good moves in place.

    I personally have big expectations for next year.

    • class1div1

      Hope you’re right..BT trading a 2nd round pick for Lazar suggested to me that he also is looking at sooner rather than later results. It will be an interesting summer for sure.

      • everton fc

        I think we all are. But I wouldn’t mortgage the future for a big-ticket goalie. We have three interesting keepers in our prospect pool. To me, if Brouwer can be dumped for Fluery, who could mentor one of Rittich or Gillies (or Johnson, for that matter…) I can live w/that. How many goalie’s under 26 do we need?? Patience is critical.

    • piscera.infada

      Agreed. I still don’t think you can go out (as @everton fc says below), and start mortgaging your future. It’s important in today’s league to find that balance. The teams that remain consistently competitive, are the ones that have enough of an internal push from their system to sustain losing important (but not core) pieces when they price themselves out of the organization. Teams spend half-decades to decades trying to re-build their prospect system–ie. a “rebuild”–and they need to be mindful of the fact that ideally, you don’t want to be forced into that again–or at least put off doing it for as long as possible, while remaining competitive. As such, it is imperative that although you want to “win now”, you absolutely can’t afford to forsake everything you’ve built, chasing your tail–that’s an ideal way to fast-track your organisation right back to the scrap-heap.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      The old Fleury would have found a way to blow that game….not anymore.
      I think the asking price is still going to be too much…especially if he wins them another cup. How many cup winning keepers are in the league.

  • RKD

    Young back up trade just watch guys like Darling and Raanta do what Talbot and Jones are doing now. It’s Darling and Raanta’s time. Darling is gone to Carolina so we need to get a guy like Raanta, Korpisalo or Grubauer. Guys like Smith, Bernier, Halak are not good options. Sometimes you have to pay a price to get really good goaltending.

  • Franko J

    I would like to see a Halak / Rittich or Johnson combo in net.
    The Flames have limited currency as in draft picks, therefore it will be very difficult for Treliving to trade a pick for a goalie like last year.

    One interesting theory that I heard on the radio is the LVGK might be looking to select 5 to 7 goalies and create a bidding war between other teams looking for a goalie.