Over the past week or so, the clubs in the Calgary Flames organization have been operating without a safety net in regards to their goaltenders. The Flames have been dressing two goaltenders who started their season in the American Hockey League while their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat, has been scrambling to find bodies to dress, period.
With the injury bug victimizing netminders in both Calgary and Stockton, could Flames general manager Brad Treliving be looking at a trade – major or minor – to provide some short-term goaltending stability?
In the NHL, the Flames begin the day with a tenuous grasp on the second Western Conference wild-card position – they’re just a point up on the St. Louis Blues and are also being pursued by the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues. They’re currently relying on NHL rookies David Rittich and Jon Gillies – their season-opening AHL tandem – as their goaltenders. Between them, they have 15 NHL starts and just 21 total appearances. Mike Smith has been day-to-day with an unspecified lower-body injury since leaving a game on Feb. 11. The team has been rather mum about Smith’s status, but he hasn’t been skating for several days – leaving the timeline of “day-to-day” very much in flux.
Meanwhile, Stockton has been in a fevered playoff race of their own. Stockton enters today in the fourth and final divisional playoff spot in the AHL’s Pacific Division, but they’re hotly pursued by both the Ontario Reign and San Antonio Rampage for that final spot. On Sunday night against the San Diego Gulls, the Heat dressed Ryan Faragher (21 career AHL appearances) and C.J. Motte (13 career AHL appearances) because of Gillies’ recall to Calgary along with injuries to Tyler Parsons and Mason McDonald. While both Parsons and McDonald are listed as day-to-day by the Heat, the degree of transparency on injuries leading up to the trade deadline invites a bit of skepticism. Like with the Flames, would it be worthwhile to acquire a goaltender to help out the Heat?
The only other goaltender until contract is Nick Schneider of the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, who could be summoned to the NHL if either player gets a hangnail but wouldn’t be able to help out Stockton until the WHL season is finished on Mar. 18. Do the Flames make any moves to bridge the gap in Stockton, or can the Heat make due until players start returning from injury?
Given that Charlie Lindgren has signed long-term in Montreal, could Laval Rockets netminder Zachary Fucale – a pending restricted free agent unlikely to receive a qualifying offer – become a possible stop-gap acquisition to help out the Heat or does Carey Price’s injury status complicate things? Could the Philadelphia Flyers move one of their many minor-league netminders? Could the Flames sniff around one of Buffalo’s NHL goaltenders? These are factors to bear in mind as the 1 p.m. MT trade deadline approaches.