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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

What would adding a goaltender cost?

Barring one goaltender going absolutely bananas, the conventional wisdom in the National Hockey League is that contending teams need to have two reliable goalies to succeed. The Flames have one reliable goaltender in David Rittich, but what would it cost them to acquire some insurance via the trade market?

The price of goaltending insurance depends on the degree to which the Flames are aiming to shore up the position. Looking at trades involving goaltenders made since the beginning of the 2017-18 season, they tend to fall into two general categories.

Trades for more options

Over the past few seasons there have been a handful of swaps where teams just needed another decent body in their system to help carry the load. The acquisition costs generally weren’t overly expensive.

  • Vegas trades Calvin Pickard to Toronto for Tobias Lindberg and 2018 sixth round pick [Oct. 7, 2017]
  • Montreal trades Al Montoya to Edmonton for a conditional 2018 fifth round pick [Jan. 4, 2018]
  • Florida trades Michael Hutchinson to Toronto for 2020 fifth round pick [Dec. 29, 2018]

None of the acquisitions were seismic, nor were the price tags, but they gave their club additional options that they didn’t have prior.

Trades to upgrade the position

If your thought process is that Mike Smith isn’t the best backup option for the Flames, but you’re not sure if Jon Gillies can carry the mail either, the price tag to upgrade the backup (or third string) position is a bit higher than just adding a depth body.

  • Arizona trades Louis Domingue to Tampa Bay for Michael Leighton and Tye McGinn [Nov. 14, 2017]
  • Detroit trades Petr Mrazek to Philadelphia for conditional 2018 fourth round pick and conditional 2019 third round pick [Feb. 19, 2018]
  • Los Angeles trades Darcy Kuemper to Arizona for Scott Wedgewood and Tobias Rieder [Feb. 21, 2018]

Obviously all these situations were a little different from each other, but two of them featured clubs trying to upgrade their depth by swapping an existing body (with a depth piece) for a better option.

The Mrazek swap might be most interesting to the Flames, in that they added a goalie on an expiring contract for a pair of conditional draft picks. The Red Wings got a fourth round pick just for giving up Mrazek, but the pick converted to a third based on Philadelphia making the playoffs (and Mrazek playing a specific number of games) and would’ve been bumped up to a second had they gone further. The other conditional pick was tied to Mrazek potentially re-signing with the Flyers. This might be up the Flames’ alley given their lack of high-end prospects beyond the NHL level these days.

Sum it up

What a goaltending trade would cost would obviously depend on how drastically the Flames wished to shake up the position. But based on recent history, adding depth would likely cost a mid-to-late draft pick, upgrading existing depth would likely have a similar price, while adding something more substantial (akin to the Mrazek trade last year) could involve conditional picks.

As far as potential trade targets, Pat Steinberg will be digging into them later this week.

  • The Beej

    Rentals are expensive and with the assets already spent BT is going to have to give his left nut to get a deal done. Im done having kids so Ill put mine up in an offer. Let me know BT.

  • buts

    As much as I want a move for a solid backup because Smith has aged and is almost done, the 2 in Stockton have a .865 save percentage and we are playoff bound we can’t give up draft picks and overpay. Shop someone like Kylington and I’m sure you could get a solid backup. I like McElhenney and a 4th round in return for Kylington. Again FN if Rittich goes down our season is waisted. BT has to cover his bases.

    • Jessemadnote

      I’m not into this idea at all. Kylington is way more valuable than a draft pick, even a first in the 25-31 range. He has looked good and his style translates well to the new NHL. Do not trade Kylington for 35 year old rental goalie. Trade a 3rd.

      • The Beej

        If Kylington is moved it needs to be very well thought out. He is basically the last prospect of our big stockpile of defensive depth that we had. Once you move him its over and you cant get him back. Our depth on D will be gone.

        He still has loads of potential. Are there any other such prospects at his age that have 5 years of pro experience?

        Any return you get for him has to be something that will boost this team for years to come. Moving him now for a 4th rounder and a backup could haunt this franchise for years to come.

        The chances of a fourth rounder panning out? How much tread does McElhenney have on those pads?

        Not much for our future in a move like this?

    • Flint

      No way. The only way we could trade one of our young stud D’s is if we were getting a stud D in return. And even then. No Way. We no longer have strength AND depth on the back end…. we just have strength. We start trading away what we’ve taken so long to build back there and he might as well just paint our jerseys blue, white and orange.

      • Greg

        I mean, I’d trade Kylington if it meant getting a Mark Stone type forward into complete our top 6. But even then, only if Valimaki is back, and the forward agrees to a contract that leaves room to resign Rittich and Tkachuk.

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    A pick, Smith and Frolik for Howard and Nyquist out of Detriot

    I know Detroit said they wanted at least a first rounder, but I feel that BT could sell ice to the North Pole so could find a way to make it work

    • Flint

      I don’t think there is any way Nyquist is leaving Detroit for anything less than a 1st, and why would Detroit trade a .917 aging UFA goalie for a .886 old UFA goalie? If you want Nyquist for less than a first you gotta sweeten the pot not piss in it.

      oh… and Carl Hagelin please. He’s 3/4 the player Nyquist is (except speed wise) and I’ll bet he can be had for a fraction the cost. Mark my words Hagelin will move for a third/fourth rounder and a good prospect, or a second rounder and a nobody at most.

  • Pete80

    It shouldn’t be too expensive, this team is good enough they just need a guy who can reasonably be above .900. There will be a lot of sellers this year, and most other contenders will be looking for other positions

  • Flint

    I think if you can get another goalie in the system without trading an NHL player and without trading a 3rd rounder or higher then you do it, otherwise, we live and die with Rittich and Smith.

    Oh…. and Carl Hagelin please.

    • Greg

      I dunno, I wouldn’t spend a 1st on a goalie insurance, but risking an entire playoff run to save a 3rd? The way this core is setup (age and contracts), we’ve got a 3-5 year window to take runs at the cup. After that, Gio will be more than done, Gaudreau’s contract will double, and all the other cap-friendly contracts we have will be finished, and we’ll be moving into a “how do we stay competitive” phase instead.

      Even if you are TBL good, your cup odds are only 10-20% percent, so if you’re in a contention window, you’ve gotta put all the cards on the table every year and hope you take the pot at least once.

  • cjc

    I think it depends on the quality of goalie being acquired. Mrazek was a guy who had been struggling a bit but had a good track record. He wasn’t going to be re-signed by Detroit.

    Another issue is Smith’s NTC (he can submit an 8 team no-trade list). Still, there aren’t a tonne of obvious options that scream “upgrade” on Smith and would be cost effective. McElhinney, Kinkaid, Howard (playing well enough he would be quite expensive), Miller (if he’s healthy in time, not sure Anaheim trades in division). After that it’s sub .900 save percentages all the way down (or backups and 1Bs on competitive teams who are unlikely to be traded, like Copley and DeSmith).

    You might laugh at me when I say this, but what about bringing back Elliott? He’s a bit cheaper than Smith, was playing pretty well before getting injured (.911). He should be back from injury soon, so if he regains form then maybe Philadelphia would part with him for Smith and a conditional pick?

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        I think the problem with Elliott-even if he was no good-was attitude. He seemed way too…serious, or something. Nobody could talk to him, it seemed.

        With Rittich it’s all Big Saves and spices-on-the-win. Like night and day.

        • cjc

          Sure, I am not suggesting they run him out instead of Rittich though. Just think he’d be better than Smith in a backup role. He wouldn’t need to say much to the media if that’s the issue.

          • Greg

            The other issue with Elliot is his recent playoff performances have been stinkers. I think Smith is done, but if I had to pick one of those two and hope they could win a series, I’d probably bet on smith over Elliot.

  • Hakanloobies

    Stay the course. Rittich will take the starter net in the playoffs and if he happens to get injured or falters you have a 13 year NHL veteran who can potentially get hot at just the right time in Smith. Not sure how much adding a guy like McElhenney to backup Rittich really does at this point. Address goaltending via free agency or trade in the offseason.

  • 420

    I’d like to see the Flames move Brodie. Now, before I am crucified, consider this:
    Brodie is a defensive liability. He is riding Gio’s unsustainable coat tails. By moving Brodie for a goalie, this could help alot the d a little better.
    Gio Andersson
    Han Ham
    Kyling Vali
    Would also open up some needed cap space. I believe Andersson is better defensively than Brodie and would benefit Gio in the long run. I would look at shipping Brodie to Torontto for Sparks,

  • deantheraven

    As we’ve seen often here these days, the “trade for a good back up” line neglects to mention what would happen to Smith. I can’t imagine a trade to move him (does he have a clause?), and there’s no way the Flames would send a guy like him down to the minors because, bad optics.
    Let me trot this one out:
    Goalies are voodoo. (I read it somewhere.)
    Maybe Smitty finds his game against a few lesser opponents and restores a level of confidence to go into the playoffs with him as BSD’s back up. Granted, it’s a big “if”, but the options available (trades we can afford to make) don’t look better. I’ll bet that Tre stays patient if Smitty shows any signs of returning to form, at least until the deadline.
    If there’s no improvement, it could force Tre’s hand. I hope not. I want Smith to go out on a good note, as I’m sure most fans and teammates do. If he can’t it would be sad…
    Either way, I hope the piling on doesn’t continue. Smith has given everything he has, and has earned the chance to prove himself again.
    (Play the video of “The Black Knight” in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” ;>)

    • Flint

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting bringing in a goalie to take Smith’s seat on the bench, it’s if Rittich gets hurt. We’d have Smith and Gillies then, holding all our playoff hopes in their very leaky hands…. yikes.

    • cjc

      The goalies are voodoo thing refers to drafting them – it’s hard to predict who will develop into a good nhl goalie from numbers in junior or college (except in rare cases).

      There are better options than Smith – not many, but a few. Smith has an 8 team NMC, so there is room to get something done. As I mentioned above, Elliott might be worth a look as Rittich’s backup. I am not saying Philly would do it or Smith would go there, but Smith and a conditional pick for Elliott might work. I know Elliott’s time here didn’t end well, but he’s a better stopgap than Smith at this point. Would also depend on how well he performs once he is back from injury.

    • Stockton's Finest

      Dean, I have suggested to trade for a #3 goalie and leave Smith to play maybe 10 to 12 games. Currently Gillies is #3, Parsons #4, Schneider #5. If the Flames could package Gillies and (fill in the blank) for someone like Tristen Jarry or Spencer Martin that would work. Gives the farm a little more stable netminder who could, for a few games, fill in if Smith got hurt. That sets up a Rittich – Jarry (or Martin) tanden in Calgary next year while Parsons and Schneider handle the Stockton duties.

  • deantheraven

    And another thing…
    Smith hasn’t cost a game, lately…
    The team seems to play a better defensive game with him in the net. Fear factor? Maybe. But less chances against can only help his chances of getting another win. or 3.

  • everton fc

    I’ve been thinking about our defence today. Here’s what this fan thinks;

    1. I wouldn’t trade Brodie. Gio is having arguably his best season, paired w/Brodie. Why mess w/this combination?
    2. I wouldn’t move Kylington for a goalie. I’s package Kylington and a pick, for Kapanen, though. But we’ll need to replace him with a d-man (some have mentioned Muzzin – what’s the cost?), as we have no #6.
    3. You can’t get McElhinney, or anyone else, until you move Smith. Smith looked okay, versus the Wings. The back-to-back killed him. Mrazek is not doing a better job, then McElhinney, and Darling may never see the NHL again. I’d move Gillies for McElhinney. Or Smith. But Smith for McElhinney, if Rittich gets hurt, is a serious dice-roll.
    4. Again, I’d call L.A. and see what it would take to pry on of Cal Petersen, or Jack Crawford, from the organization. What would that cost? Could you get Petersen, cheap?? We’d have to move Smith first, though.

    • BendingCorners

      Kapanen is an option, but Dubas will be looking for an established RD not a rookie LD.
      Hamonic for Kapanen plus maybe, but then who fills out our right side?
      That’s why I don’t think a trade with Toronto is likely.

  • BendingCorners

    The two obvious depth moves for the Flames are to get a backup goalie and a third pair defenseman in exchange for late-round picks. That won’t help the Flames win the Cup, it will just provide some options in case Rittich and the rookies run into problems. Of course, if Smith improves and Stone gets healthy, trades become unnecessary.
    Winning the cup requires Old James Neal to become Young James Neal, or to be replaced by somebody who scores more than OJN and defends better than OJN. My vote is to save a tiny bit of cap space by waiving OJN and calling up Foo. He isn’t much (and CT thinks he has missed his window) but I believe he is better than OJN on both sides of the puck. If not him, then somebody, but as long as OJN is on the roster cap space will prevent a big move.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Personally I can’t see Smith ever get his game back mainly due to the fact he refuses to reinvent his game by playing farther out. But like others I continue to hope that Smith can do what Holtby did in the playoffs after losing the starting position during the regular season. I have seen Smith do some freakishly athletic things such as firing a puck 200 ft into a small hole in the net. He has as good as chance as any physically but his biggest challenge seems to be mental.

  • Mitchell

    Perhaps the flames can swap struggling goalies with another team, and ideally avoid giving up any additional assets? Though Its far from a perfect solution, and it would definitely be gillies going the other way for a 3rd string goaltender. Charlie Lindgren comes to mind, but I’m sure there’s other options.

  • Garry T

    Smith is a hero in Az. He could help them with attendance which is not great and he will come out of his funk there. They have a lot of young D and good young forwards.
    And still has lots of cap space. I would make the call. A young goalie to replace Gillies who you could move out for a 2 and a 3. You should be able to get a fairly good NHL or NHL ready goalie.

    I like Kylington better than Anderson. I move Anderson and someone from Stockton or a 3 pick in 2021 to Toronto for Kapanen. Toronto has tons of young guys ready. You put Valimaki back in the lineup and you have filled all the holes. A backup, some new D for Stockton. Maybe a forward and now you have 9 to 10 picks instead of 5 for the 2019 draft.

    There are 12 teams below 43 points in the standings right now.
    There is bound to be a good forward there that we could get for Czarnik or Hathaway or both.

    Vegas loved our boy Neal. How about Neal back to Vegas for a 2, a 3, and a good younger D. Or better yet , two younger D and a 2 pick and a 7 pick this year.

    Tre are u reading this site.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Here is rhe reason why you don’t give up on a player like Ras. He has had well documented issues with his diet and fitness which he has worked to correct. It is safe to say that he has made significant strides in the last couple of years since being called out be Tre.

      Ras has a high hockey IQ that has allowed him to excel despite weak fitness. Just imagine what he can do with a ramped up fitness program, specialized diet, and a elite skating coach. The same things that most of his teammates and opponents do religiously. Once his skating improves he could be a top 2 defender.

  • FlamesFanFromMI

    Apparently I can’t suggest to take a chill pill so here is my question? We don’t have lot of depth at D thanks to Hamonic trade. All you see is all you got. I am not sure what Kulak did to piss tree off but oh well. Remember the days of wings when their defense was so good any average goalie will do? So we are suggesting to trade young and cheap D man to get a may be good backup goalie. Now what if it fails? Your backup goalie didn’t workout. You traded your young Ds and you have no prospects. Did you guys forget Sutter era where we traded future to win now after 2004 and then pooped all over? I am sure Tree will figure it out. I remember listening to Jay Feaster and telling reporters that there are only 2 best future goalies available and they got both ( 1 was Gillies don’t remember the second one). Don’t trade young D and draft picks. Can’t trade current top 4d either cause of potential playoff run. May be play very tight defensive game?
    Any idea why coach doesn’t like Frolik?

  • freethe flames

    The question that has to be asked is what do we have that we can afford to part with. I heard the radio guys talking about which FA rental forwards were available without any real discussion about what assets we have and what the cost would be. Like everyone else all we can do is guess what the cost would be. Here are the assets that I would be prepared to move for a rental: our 3rd rounder and any other draft pick lower than that, Frolik, Czarnik, Hathaway, anyone on the Heat not named Phillips or Parsons. I would reluctantly depending on the return be willing to move Bennett,Janko, and one of Kylington or Anderson. I don’t list either Smith or Neal not b/c I don’t want to move them but b/c there will be a cost to move them. Would I move Backs, Brodie or Hamonic again very reluctantly and only if the return was awesome.

    BT is in a difficult spot as we approach the TD; this team has probably 3 significant needs but does not have the cap space or the assets to meet these needs and he cannot get into a bidding war to fill these needs. The three needs in order of importance are IMO a third goalie or someone who is an upgrade on Smith, a forward who can add to our top 6/9 forwards and a depth defender. doing this with our limited assets and cap space will be a hard job.

  • Vernon30

    Would SJ do something with Dell? Gilles and a late pick? Montoya, Mrazek or Pickard could be reasonable and cheap. If I’m DET, LA, or CHI, I’m selling everything.

  • Flamesforever

    Looks like it’s a 3 horse race for first in the Pacific. SJ and Vegas are both leading there games as we speak. I’m sure the boys feel them breezing down there necks and that’ll only push us to get home ice! GFG ?

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I am curious to know if we would have more success plucking a top European goalie who has an out clause to playin the NHL. It won’t cost us any players or draft picks.