The Flames are first in the Pacific, the best start in recent memory, and we’re all still worried about goaltending.
Which is fair. The Flames have made their name so far on being able to outscore their opponent, as the Colorado game has proven (it will likely go down as their signature regular season win). But there’s always the lingering feeling that they won’t be able to keep it up forever. Can they come back from down 4-1 with 20 minutes left forever? Probably not.
At some point, they’ll have to address the goaltending. The team is clearly too good to allow bad goalies to keep sinking them. Mike Smith has established that he’s not a starter anymore. David Rittich is good, but not starter good (yet). Where do the Flames go from here?
Also, Dillon Dube.
Trading for Bob is absolutely a bad idea, right?
— Kevin Chamberlain (@Keverman34) November 3, 2018
(If you’re out of the Twitter loop: Sportsnet suggested the Flames trade Mike Smith, a 2019 first, and one of Jon Gillies/Tyler Parsons to the Blue Jackets for Sergei Bobrovsky.)
In a vacuum, no. If there’s one goalie who is up there with Carey Price, it’s Bobrovsky. The Flames have so far proven that they can outscore bad goaltending (9-1 games excluded), but if they’re already a pretty good team with lousy goaltending, they could be unstoppable with great goaltending. Bobrosvky is a great goaltender, so let’s do this.
Of course, reality dictates that yes, it is a bad idea. If Bobrovsky is up there with Price, he’s also going to get Price money ($10.5M x 8). That’s not money the Flames can afford, especially with a certainly expensive Matthew Tkachuk contract coming up. It’s also worth mentioning that Bob is over 30, so that contract may be good for half of those years. This is even if he wants to sign in Calgary, which isn’t guaranteed. I can’t even imagine that the suggested Sportsnet package could get it done, so it’ll be very, very expensive for a goalie who may either leave after a half-season or stick you in cap hell. Trading for Bob is a bad idea.
Pekka got a contract extension. What's it take for the Flames to pry Sarros from NSH
— Missing Dougie szn (@RaysGoat) November 3, 2018
Is Saros available?
— Nick Adams (@T0Y_L0VE) November 3, 2018
I don’t think that Pekka Rinne getting an extension is going to affect Juuse Saros’ availability in any major way. The Preds don’t have any goaltending depth behind him, and with him locked up at $1.5M for two more seasons, there’s no real reason to move him unless he gets grumpy. The Preds are in their contention window, so they don’t really need to trade their cheap and good backup just because. Saros has hype, but he’s still a backup for now, so that’s probably why they extended Rinne. The Preds don’t need to make a future decision right now (the looming Seattle expansion draft also might play in here: they have a lot to protect, so keeping Rinne around as a dangle piece could be valuable), so they won’t.
If Saros was available, I think that it would be a package somewhere between Philipp Grubauer and Antti Raanta: a higher end draft pic with maybe a prospect, and with a salary dump tacked on. Maybe that’s worth it for the Flames, but given that they haven’t had a first round pick since Juuso Valimaki (and sparing amounts of seconds and thirds) they might be hesitant.
I've heard Smith possible to flyer or Panthers. What could we get from them? Any thoughts?
— Mauricio Cardoza (@Msea91) November 3, 2018
Trade rumours are what they are, but I can’t see why either team would want to make this trade. They both have goaltending issues, I’m not sure why adding Calgary’s goaltending issue to the pile would solve anything. Those teams may be desperate, but not that desperate.
If there is steam, I can’t imagine the Flames could get much for Smith. It would probably be similar to the Niklas Backstrom-David Jones trade the Flames made a few years ago, where they swapped one high-salary, old disappointment for another one and maybe got a late round pick out of it (though that pick turned out to be the promising Matthew Phillips, so).
From Pierre Lebrun this morning…
— Daniel Tiller (@tiller_daniel) November 1, 2018
I think that there’s not much more to worry about than Brad Treliving ensuring that he has an open connection to Smith (and more importantly, his agent) in case the offseason goes really, really wrong. If you want to get bleak, the Flames still don’t have a starter for next season. Rittich is untested as a starter and Gillies is blowing his audition in the AHL. Treliving is certainly loyal to a fault and is willing to dance with the one who brought him here. I don’t think they’ll re-sign Smith, but he’ll keep the option on the table as a last resort.
But the quip about Smith having less mileage and ergo deserves a higher risk contract than what teams usually give out to 35+ players is hooey. Smith has been a starter since 2011-12 and has seen 50+ games in five seasons. Since Smith became an NHL regular in 2006-07, only nine other goalies have played more games than him. If the Flames want to consider re-signing him just as insurance, that’s at least justifiable. But they really shouldn’t buy into that “less mileage” hype and give him something ridiculous.
Calgary flames starting goaltender David Rittich?
— Daniel Tiller (@tiller_daniel) November 3, 2018
When do you give Rittich the keys?
— James (@eastonclintwood) November 3, 2018
I think they need to give him a test drive as the starter right now. At this point, he’s quite clearly the better goalie than Smith. Since the Flames don’t have any goalies next year, they absolutely have to start testing it out. If he proves that he can handle multiple starts, good. If he doesn’t, back to the drawing board. But the important thing is that you have to find out. You can’t do that if you keep Smith as the nominal starter.
Does Rittich get a contract extension before end of the season? and how many UFA seasons does CGY want to buy? Do the Flames know what Rittich is well enough to decide on say a three yr deal?
— kingcambie (@kingcambie) November 3, 2018
The way he’s playing, yes, he gets extended. I think the Flames move on it quickly before other teams start sniffing around and boost his value. It’s a long shot, but if the team can get him on the Saros deal ($1.5M x 3), that’s pretty good. If he’s good, he’s cheap; if he’s not, well he’s still cheap.
What do you do with Mike Smith? Do you keep rolling with him and hope he performs better? Can the Flames make the playoffs without him?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) November 3, 2018
The other side of making Rittich the starter is that you have to do something with Smith. Although they’ve parked expensive options for periods before (has anyone heard from Michael Stone recently?), it’s much more difficult to do that with a goalie. He’s going to have to play sometime.
I think the Flames might try a 1A/1B style with Smith as the 1B goalie. If he can be average on most nights, or at least not a disaster, the Flames can certainly make the playoffs with him getting significant minutes. But it is very important that they also plan around him not being the goalie that gets them there, because that ain’t happening.
Valimaki and Andersson have been getting a lot of ice time especially at the end of the game. They clearly like both guys, but what do they do with Stone? Can they really justify paying a guy 3.5 million dollars to eat Saddledome popcorn? I know it's really tasty
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) November 3, 2018
I feel that they’ve been trying to move Stone for a while now with no buyers, hence him in the press box. If you have two rookies who have taken his spot without anyone noticing, it’s a hard sell to any other club. Why would anyone want the guy who is owed $7M over the next two seasons when players with minimal NHL experience took his job?
Are we sure that Dube, Andersson and Valimaki are going to stay up with the big club? Is there a chance any/all of them will be sent down? Should we prepare for heartbreak?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) November 3, 2018
Rasmus and Juuso, no. They had options instead and have done away with all of them. Those two have earned their job, and an uncharacteristic fall from grace is the only thing that prevents them from going down.
Dube is in more skeptical territory. While he’s had his bad luck (he should certainly have three goals by now instead of three moments where NHL veterans have tried to kill him), you could still make the case for him to go down. There are areas of his game that need refinement, and that’s what the AHL is for. Him getting more minutes can arguably improve his game, so it’s something they might consider. It really depends on how Andrew Mangiapane or Spencer Foo do, as they also need a compelling case to replace Dube with one of those players.
Am I the only one that thinks it would be better to send Dube to the minors? 3 years from now, Flames have an overdeveloped player (see Rasmus Andersson) vs underdeveloped (see Curtis Lazar)
— Jason Roycroft (@jrroycroft) November 3, 2018
I said there’s a case for sending Dube down, but I don’t buy it myself. I think that he does things better than a replacement-level player could at the NHL level, and if he wasn’t snakebitten, these questions probably wouldn’t pop up.
I don’t think a Curtis Lazar comparison is workable though. Lazar was essentially forced onto an Ottawa team that, as we have learned, isn’t entirely responsible or smart with player development. The Sens had an open spot and gave it to Lazar because they really had no other options. The Flames gave Dube an opportunity, and he seized it. He’s earned his keep. Among many options with more experience, he rose to the task and took the spot he deserved.
The Sens really should’ve been patient with Lazar, but I’m not sure that would’ve made him better. Comparing Dube to Lazar also ignores that Dube has been an overall better player every step of the way. Dube had more points in the WHL in fewer games during his draft year than Lazar had. If you prorate the next season, Dube still had more points. Lazar was probably never cut out for regular NHL hockey despite the insistence of his GMs. Development was mishandled, sure, but if the Sens did it properly, he would probably be closer to a regular fourth liner than a regular top sixer.
There has been a lot of talk about finding where Neal fits on the roster but what about Dube? Seems to be useful wherever he’s slotted. What’s his idea spot on the lineup if you could draw it up?
— Ian Duval (@duvie27) November 3, 2018
I like what he’s been doing in the bottom six. He seems to be a bit more buzzy with Derek Ryan against other teams’ bottom sixes, so if those two could become strong depth players, that seems to be workable. I also liked when he was with Sam Bennett and/or James Neal. He was an aggravating player to play against in the WHL, which I think is one of his greatest strengths, so pairing with a similar player could be the key to unlocking him.
Lines seem to have stabled out a bit recently, and it's better than recent coaches' insistence on keeping some lines together, but is the blender being put to work too much, hindering guys' ability to find chemistry?
— Brad (@brad_1729) November 3, 2018
The blender is fine. I think that Bill Peters puts together some interesting lines that have garnered results when he pulls out the blender. Among the forwards, I don’t notice any blender lines that obviously stand out like they’ve never played together before.
I just wish he stuck with some of the lines. The Tkachuk-Backlund-Neal line looked great against Chicago, but it’s probably not going to stick around longer than that. He’s teased Gaudreau-Monahan-Tkachuk (and Neal) before too, which should see more ice time. To put it simply, I think that Peters shouldn’t have to wait for the team to be down two goals for him to put some offensive weapons together.