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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson / USA TODAY Sports

Flames re-sign Jon Gillies, David Rittich to one-year deals

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.

  • Puckhead

    Great signings. The Heat should have a good roster with solid goaltending this season. I’ll take one too many good goalies in the system any day. It’s a good problem to have.

    Go 🔥 Go!!!

  • Lanny's-Stache

    I like the idea of 1 year contracts for Gillies and Rittich. 1-yr contracts typically force players who are on them to bring their best every night to increase their value for their contract the following year. Competitive environments are a must for prospect development.

    These 2 goaltenders, I think, provide unquestionable serivicibility in the AHL. Gillies also showed well in his 1 NHL game.

    Parsons can start in the ECHL, play major ‘minutes’, if that even means anything. If he goes to the ECHL, has a .920+ SV% and a 2.50 or less GAA, who is complaining about having him in the ‘pipeline’. It’s more about goaltenders confidence when it comes to development.

    Treliving continues his busy summer

  • RKD

    The goalie situation has been tenuous even with prospects. The Flames haven’t had any apparent heir to Kipper and even Miikaa was brought in via trade. Rittich needs to prove he’s not a one year wonder and Gilles needs to prove he can both stay healthy and then outperform Rittich. Hope both guys push each other. The Flames have had a lot of problems with developing their drafted goalies. Too many busts: Krahn, Irving, Ortio, and Brossoit was traded. I have more faith with Parsons, McDonald, Gilles and Rittich than other goalies before them.

    • Jimmyhaggis

      I agreee, developing goaltenders has been a big problem for the Flames, not sure the reason, poor drafting? Poor goaltender coaching? Something that has to improve if you want to contend.

    • TheoForever

      I’m surprised that Ortio didn’t workout for us. As for the current crop, I think Rittich could be a decent backup, he looked better than Gillies who I’m not sure what to think. I don’t see much in McDonald should have gone with Demko.
      However, Parsons looks like the real thing, hope he progresses fast, we need him.

      • Puckhead

        Theo, can you name 5 ‘elite’ goaltenders in the NHL? We were spoiled with Kiprusoff and Montreal has been blessed with Price. Elite goalies are few and far between. If ‘elite’ goaltenders are a measure of a teams drafting and goalie coaching then most teams fail the litmus test.

        • Atomic Clown

          Holtby, Price, Murray, Quick. Bonafide franchise goalies. Lundqvist, Bobrovsky, Jones, Talbot, Vasilevsky, Schneider, Crawford, elite level goalies. Anderson, Rask, Rinne, Fleury, Anderson, Bishop, very good. Beyond that it’s really different levels of turd, and how much the turd has been polished.

          • Puckhead

            My definition of elite is your definition of franchise. But well done. You named 4 that you think are elite. I’m not a goalie expert but does anyone know which of the elite goalies you mention were developed within their own club. As you know, we inherited Kiprusoff from the Sharks.

          • Sterls

            All 4 that he deems elite were drafted by the teams they play for. So was Lundqvist, who I think most would agree only recently was demoted from that category. I would include Schneider in the elite category too, he had an off year but his numbers have been amazing over his career. The only reason why he is in NJ is because of that Loungo contract. He would still be a Canuck otherwise. Of those 6 goalies only Price and Schneider were drafted in the first round (5th and 26th respectively). To me this suggests that goalies are the hardest predict but also are the position that is most effected by a teams ability to develop that position. The last quality goalie that Calgary developed likely is Vernon. I can’t think of anyone else other than Giguere who was even in our system that was even decent, and we didn’t draft him, Hartford did, and he didn’t have success until he went to Anaheim. That is a terrible track record. Hopefully we can break the curse with one of these guys.

        • TheoForever

          I wasn’t commenting on elite, coaching, drafting. However, now that we are talking about it, our record of drafting and developing goalie is probably worse than our overall drafting looking from 1990 forward.
          As for goalies active right now I like: Murray………. be back in 20 minutes, gotta go.

          • TheoForever

            There is a few goalies I like: Bobrovsky, Lundqvist, Schneider, Rask, and a few more.
            I would put Smith in the average category of good enough, hope he can keep it up for a year or two.
            Out of the 3 you mentioned, only Parsons screams great. Gillies could become a starter but it could go either way. Rittich is more solid than Gillies bad not sure about the ceiling.

          • Puckhead

            I’m curious to watch Smith play behind our D. My guess is the trade has given him a shot and I’m expecting big things from him. It should be a fun season.

          • TheoForever

            If he can stay healthy my expectation is that he will be solid enough for us to challenge for #1 in the division. Lack worries me more, no idea what to expect from him, but my fear is that he will not be good enough. If Smith goes down for extended period of time we better pray that one of our prospects can step up.

    • Atomic Clown

      @puckhead, sorry I can’t reply directly to your comment, but I do believe all four of the franchise goalies were developed within the club. All drafted, seasoned and brought up internally. Kipprusoff, to be brutally honest, was a gift that no one expected. It wasn’t a Talbot/Jones type of deal where he exhibited raw talent, and just needed time; it was a Hail Mary, and it paid off. I would rank Smith as a decent goalie, past his prime, a bit old, with his fair share of injuries. A lot of times a goalie plays better behind some players than others, hopefully Smith can find his old self behind one of the deepest d core in the league

    • TheoForever

      I agree that Talbot was elite. With the terrible defense core that bleeds high danger shots and 2nd chances he had to be. Talbot was the MVP of your team, without him even mickyD could not perform the miracle of getting you out of sewer. Cheers to Talbot for oil would be nothing without him. Now, lets hope he can keep it up, because your D has just gotten worse……..

      • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

        Theo reverted..K if you want to have a real conversation. How did Edmonton get worse. Sure they will miss Sekera but Nurse took a big step from the year before and Benning more than proved his worth. Klefbom had an outstanding year as did Larsson. They should be better yet this year together again.
        They also bent a little in the playoffs it did not break.

        • Atomic Clown

          I’m sorry, anytime Russell is your top 4 dman, and will be for the next 4 years, your d got worse. Klefbom is your legitimate #1, and he doesn’t have a partner that can keep up with him. Larssen and Sekera are a very good 2nd pairing, but Sekera is out long term. Benning can’t handle a top 4 workload, and Nurse can’t do it this season; in two years time yes. As such you’ve got to play Larssen with Klefbom, Russell with Nurse, and Benning with someone (I’m sorry my knowledge of oilers d corps ends here). At every pairing you have one player playing higher minutes in a more responsible role than he is capable of, and that’s a recipe for disaster (i.e see wideman as a top 4, or Engelland)

          • TheoForever

            According to people on HF, Klefoot is not yet a #1 dman. You are right he is miles ahead of Larssen. In fact most neutral fans pick Hamilton over Klef, Hamilton vs Larrssen its not even close, our guy wins. They didn’t do Gio vs XXXoiler, because there was nobody worth comparing. Klef is basically Brodie, except Brodie had a bad year…., this is too easy……….

        • TheoForever

          You still don’t have #1 dman. Sekera is a #4 dman, that had to play as #3 and now Russell a #5 dman will be playing as #3. Nurse and Benning are almost an average #3 pairing. So, everyone of your defenders will be better, sure because that’s how reality works. I expect Klefoot to improve, he makes some bad mistakes, but is trending up. Nurse, should improve, Benning on the other hand, hahaha……..

        • TheoForever

          You got some holes on the D, big holes……… Lets assume:
          Larsson-Klef; Russell – Nurse; Benning and an AHLer. One injury add another AHLer.
          That’s a brutal defense.

          • TheoForever

            Yeap, that’s an AHLer. This guy would not make our top 6 in the AHL. In fact since we are at it, your new #3 Russell would be #6 on our D. Your top paring would be in a battle with our 2nd pairing and it would not be a shocker if they lost that battle. Now that’s funny………..

          • TheoForever

            So, where do we slot Gryba among flames prospects:
            Andersson, Valimaki, Kylington, Kulak, Spoon, Fox, yeap at the end, and the list could be expended.
            But Connor you got a fine defense and don’t let anyone tell you any different…….

          • TheoForever

            You are right Puckhead, Gryba would be a 3rd liner on our farm, too bad I cannot add Fox since he is in college. If I could Gryba doesn’t make the cut. And of course Valimaki will most likely go back to WHL.

          • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

            Remember at the expansion draft when Vegas picked Engellend over Kulak?? Now that was funny!! Yet you think he is better? Get ready for another tire fire from your absolutely overated D . The last two years proved it!!
            Can’t wait to run you guys into the ground again.

          • TheoForever

            Connor you are typical coiler without shame, your team has been pounded and worn like a puppet by every team in the league for 10 years and you make the playoffs once and on the back of a goaltender and you yap like a little chihuahua.
            Not only they picked Engelland but they are keeping him, rightly so, toughest guy in the league and a home boy. They even paraded him in front of their fans, they didn’t do that with Reinhart, too bad.
            What did you give up for him, 1st and a 2nd? Good job.

          • TheoForever

            I love the coiler fans, coming to Flames site just to give ‘thumbs down’. You guys are pathetic.
            Cannot wait until the season, coilers about to show what unsustainable really is. Oiler regression in 2.5 months…

  • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

    You’re defence was very inconsistent last year., and when it mattered most in the playoffs your team showed no character at all and got humiliated by the ducks.
    Edmontons defence was rock solid in the playoffs last season and we did it without your so called Norris trophy winners. I wonder if Hamonic wins it this year?
    The most expensive d in the league will leave old man Smith out to dry again.

    • MontanaMan

      Why do you feel compelled to comment on every Flames blog with an Oilers slant? Guess what champ – every Flames article doesn’t involve the Oilers. Very infrequently you have something intelligent to say but more often, you babble on about something irrelevant about the Oil. Do us a favour and take your Oilers love to ON. Or did they kick you off of there as well?

    • Baalzamon

      Edmontons defence was rock solid in the playoffs last season

      Um no. Your goaltending was rock solid. There’s a difference. Quick quiz: who gave up the most scoring chances per 60 minutes in the playoffs last year? Toronto. Who was second? Edmonton.

      You’d better hope Talbot never gets hurt again.

      • Puckhead

        I am not overly worried about Edmonton. They get mentioned because they are our closest rival and the Canucks are not very good at the time. I’m more worried about teams like Anaheim, Nashville, Dallas, Pittsburgh… teams that the Flames may have to get past as they get deeper into the playoffs.

      • dontcryWOLF88

        if Talbot or MdDavid either had an injury,though, that would be the end of the season for the Oilers. Once M]cDavids contract kick in next year, the cap purge will be even more prominent.

        The way I look at it we got Monahan (27 goals, 31 assists, 58 points $6.375 mil) AND Gaudreau (18 goals, 43 assists, 61 points $6.75 mil) That works out to $13.125 mil for (45 goals, 92 assists, and 139 points.

        Compare that to the $12.5 million that McDavid will get soon for his (30 goals, 70 assists, and 100 points), Most people, probably myself even, would pick McDavid vs both Monahan and Gaud0eau together, however i think thats the fan boy kind of mentality about hockey. Guys like McDavid bring a lot of attention to your team And then you can vicariously feel good about that.As i pointed out with the numbers there though, having two giys who are pretty good, vs one guy who is amazing…thesecond option actually makes more sense from a business standpoint (more points when combined together, similar combined cap hit compared to McDavid). The risk is also diversified with a greater depth of forward. When Gaudreau got injured last year the Flames still made it work (the team actually even got better during his absence

        • Southboy

          While i agree with you for the most part, and love that we have JH and Monneyhan, the 100pts you speak of were on his ELC. That being said when he does make 12.5m and say he puts up 100pts, than yes 2 is better than one, but than if you take his 12.5m and add say Patrick Maroons 1.5m ( becomes 14m ) and their point totals equal 142, so basically a wash with JH and SM.

  • freethe flames

    Goalie replacement plan in place: Smith/Lack to start the season; Gilles and Rittich in a battle to see who will become the back up at the end of the season; Parsons playing almost every night in the AHL and MacDonlad on loan to another ECHL team. Trade deadline nears Lack is traded and one of Rittich/Gilles and maybe even Parsons becomes the back up. Parsons likely replaces the goalie sent up and shares net duties with the other unless the Flames also trade the other one. Next year one of Gilles/Rittich backs up Smith while Parsons carries the load in the AHL.(Flames draft a good goalie prospect)The following year Parsons and Gillies/Rittich share the duties.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      I think the loser of this goalie face-off gets traded as one peice in a larger deal. Parsons is the gloden goose, and the guy can definetely stop some pucks, no doubt .Although, unless Parsons turns into the Nail Yakupov of the goalie world, then the Flames Organization will be advancing him above all other current prospects. I would bet real good money on that(how many guys on the farm were passed over by Tckchuk last year?) One of Rittich or Gillies has to go id say. Best case scenario they both kill it this year. Even then, or especially then, I think one of the two guys get traded. Optimally you might rpull in a first round pick for one of these guys (assuming a save percentage of .920. , preferably even higher)

      Could recoup a second round pick more likely.

      My favourite option would be to try to snag a RW of comparable level of skill/development as Gillies or Rittich . Picks are good too though.