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?
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.
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?