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Report: Flames to sign Russian goalie Artyom Zagidulin

After a fairly uneven season from the club’s depth goaltenders, the Calgary Flames seem to be starting to make some changes. TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting that the club is close to a deal with KHL netminder Artyom Zagidulin.

It would be a one-year entry-level deal for Zagidulin, who turns 24 in August.

Zagidulin is a product of Magnitigorsk, Russia, and has played on and off with his hometown Metallurg Magnitigorsk since he was a youngster. This season was his big breakout in the Kontinental Hockey League after cups of coffee with Metallurg and Kunlun Red Star in 2015-16 and 2016-17. He spent this entire season with Metallurg, posting a 1.96 goals against average and .924 save percentage in 25 games. He also played three games for his club in this year’s Spengler Cup.

Zagidulin is a pretty good KHL netminder, with his goals against average ranking ninth among regulars and his save percentage 17th. But he’s a free agent now, and otherwise stuck behind veteran (and Olympic gold medalist) Vasili Koshechkin in Metallurg’s pecking order. Rather than try to catch on with another KHL outfit, it makes a lot of sense to try his hand in North America to see if he can carve out his own path.

European hockey writer Aivis Kalnins offered his thoughts via Twitter on Zagidulin:

All in all, it seems like a really low-risk move for the Flames. But with minor leaguers Jon Gillies, Tyler Parsons and Nick Schneider under contract through next season (and Mason McDonald a pending restricted free agent), this anticipated signing suggests other moves in the offing.

    • Sterls

      Not sure there are many goalies that turn into quality long term NHL starters that aren’t drafted. We have gotten some magic out of Rittich, but he seems to be the exception, and may still be a flash in the pan like other whom we have tried this way (Berra, Ramo). Still we need help at the position, and this is a free roll of the dice, so to speak, hopefully it turns out to be a winner, but please keep drafting the odd goalie with promise as that is the best way to eventually find that stud.

      • mrroonie

        Berra was acquired from St. Louis in the Bouwmeester trade and Ramo was acquired from Montreal in the trade that sent Rene Bourque to the Habs. Both were drafted by NHL clubs.

        • Sterls

          Yes both were drafted, but both were also scouted out of Euro leagues because they hadn’t had success in the NHL. We traded for the NHL rights while they were playing for Euro teams. Kinda the same thing, bringing in talent that scouts targeted from Europe. Neither amounted to much. Not to say Rittich won’t break the trend, or this guy, but to simply not draft goalies, like WW was suggesting, means our chances of getting a true stud are greatly diminished. Kipper was the exception, and if I recall that trade was originally a depth move due to our starter getting hurt. I get where WW is coming from though, the Flames have a terrible record drafting goalies, or perhaps are just terrible at developing goalies, to the point that we haven’t drafted a gem (outside of Gigure whom we traded too soon) in a couple of decades.

  • FLT

    A high-potential, low risk signing at an area of need, at only the cost of the contract? Yeah, I’m on board. Limited sample size, but pretty solid numbers on this kid – playing in a men’s league at a young age – to boot.

  • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

    “Not sure if he has the ceiling to be an NHL starter but if developed properly he should be an amazing 1A/1B option”

    So basically David Rittich 2.0. I’m good with it. Didn’t like the rumour yesterday for the Swedish forward, but this one sounds promising for sure.

  • Tkachuk'sLisp

    I always get way more excited for these signings than I should. His numbers look good but I don’t know anything about him. Could be found money, could be nothing! Love to think about the possibilities though!

  • Stockton's Finest

    Hum….so this would suggest either Gillies gets the back up next year and this guy backs up Parsons in Stockton or they deal Gillies for a NHL back up and he backs up Parsons in Stockton.

    • Burnward

      I’d bet serious money it’s Rittich/Gillies or this guy next year in the show.

      Can’t see them running out to grab another older tender unless they need one later in the season.

      Rittich though is the man for sure.