The Calgary Flames are taking care of business, rounding up their remaining restricted free agents and making sure they have contracts. Up now: their pair of AHL goalies, Jon Gillies and David Rittich, who have both been re-signed to one-year, two-way deals. Via CapFriendly, both will carry cap hits of $725,000 in the NHL.
With Mike Smith and Eddie Lack acquired earlier in the offseason, it’s likely both Gillies and Rittich are destined to play in the AHL this upcoming season.
The Flames have a lot of goalies and few spots for them, so the one-year deals make sense for both prospects – they’re “show me” deals. Smith is signed for two seasons, and Parsons, on an ELC, for three, but Lack’s contract will expire after this season, as will both Gillies and Rittich’s. This possibly helps ensure the Flames’ crease doesn’t get too crowded as they wait for one of their prospects to prove himself to be NHL ready – that is, unless a trade situation happens to arise.
Gillies and Rittich have had completely different career paths. Gillies, a third round pick in 2012, played three outstanding seasons at Providence College – capping it all off with a Frozen Four championship – before turning pro. Unfortunately, his initial rookie season was cut short due to a need for hip surgery just seven games into his first AHL season. Upon returning the next year, his numbers steeply fell – from .920 in his first seven games to .910 in the 39 that followed in 2016-17 – and a .915 save percentage over three playoff games. That said, he’ll have had a full year of recovery following his surgery under his belt now, not to mention he’s only 23 years old, so there’s still plenty of hope for Gillies and he remains a top prospect.
Rittich, on the other hand, was signed as a 24-year-old undrafted free agent out of the Czech league. He ended up doing more than just pushing Gillies, as in his rookie season for the Stockton Heat, he posted a .924 save percentage over 31 games, and .917 in four playoff games. Rittich got a chance later in his hockey playing career and grabbed it by the horns, establishing himself as a legitimate prospect in his own right.
The Flames have poured more resources into Gillies – but when both your AHL goalies are performing well, you take heed of both of them. Both made their NHL debuts this past season as well, albeit in meaningless games; Gillies played a full game against the Los Angeles Kings, posting a .964 save percentage and a win in his first start, while Rittich played 20 minutes against the San Jose Sharks, with a .900 save percentage. Both gave up one goal.
With Gillies and Rittich signed, the Flames just have three restricted free agents to see to: Sam Bennett, Brett Kulak, and Tyler Wotherspoon. Mikael Backlund’s pending extension is also a possibility.