Photo Credit: Ofsimnupi/Wikimedia Commons

Flames officially sign Artyom Zagidulin

It’s been a bit of an open secret for about two weeks now, but the Flames announced today that they have signed KHL goaltender Artyom Zagidulin.

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Because he is entering his age 24 season, the ELC is only for one year. There is no official AAV yet, but it will probably be somewhere between $700-900K.

The contract has been a done deal for a while now – the press release indicates that the contract was officially signed on March 30 – but couldn’t be officially announced, presumably due to the weird KHL/NHL transfer rules. KHL and NHL teams don’t have an official transfer agreement, but they have agreed to respect each other’s contracts as valid ones, waiting for deals to expire before trying to sign players from other leagues.

Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s season was already over by March 30, but the KHL season isn’t actually officially over yet, with the Gagarin Cup finals kicking off later this week. There really isn’t any explanation for the delay, and I don’t expect one soon.

Zagidulin will presumably be in the running for an NHL spot when next season begins. The Metallurg product has been a strong goalie in Russia’s minor leagues, and broke through in the KHL this season, but mainly in a backup role. With no NHL experience and a contract that allows him to start in the AHL, it’s likely that he begins his 2019-20 season in Stockton, but with only one NHL goaltender in David Rittich and a handful of minor leaguers who aren’t anywhere close to the NHL yet, it’s feasible that Zagidulin is in the running.

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With Mike Smith and Mason McDonald likely on their way out, the Flames’ organizational goaltending depth next season, excluding Zagidulin, is Nick Schneider, Tyler Parsons, Jon Gillies, and Rittich. Perhaps there are more moves on the way.

  • Baalzamon

    And there it is. I’m curious where he’ll fit in next season. If he doesn’t make the NHL team will he return to Europe or stick it out like Rittich did?

  • everton fc

    I may get trashes for this, but I’d re-sign McDonald, who seems to have found himself, in KC. There is no guarantee Gillies will develop into anything more than a journeyman minor leaguer and Parsons is all over the place, in terms of playing, not playing, hurt, not hurt…. McDonald was 23-10, with a .917 save percentage on a team that wasn’t very good – 36-30-2, to be exact. He’ll be only 23, next season. Why dump him?

  • SeanCharles


    That group has one proven NHL goalie..

    Something will have to give here. The only guys I know will be here next yr are Rittich, Parsons and Zagidulin (unless he goes back to Russia if he doesn’t make the NHL).

    The one aspect of all this is if we re-sign McDonald he will no longer be on his ELC – anyone not on ELC cannot go to the ECHL without consent.

    That would leave 5 guys all who have to play in the AHL or NHL and Parsons as the only guy eligible for ECHL. You probably want him as one of the top 2 goalies in Stockton if you want to keep developing him..

    • Albertabeef

      I wouldn’t even call that one goalie as “proven”. He’s stats between the allstar break and the end of the season have not been good in his first two NHL seasons. He is fairly reliable, but he doesn’t steal many wins as an elite goalie would.

      • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

        David Rittich has a 0.928 his last five games this year. He went 19-7-2 his final 28 Games of this season. I really don’t understand this Rittich “isn’t good down the stretch” rhetoric. I’ve gone through his numbers last year and outside of one bad game he was a 0.910+ Goalie down the stretch then as well last year.

  • MDG1600

    Goalies are weirdos as far as their development curve goes. So many of them don’t come in to their own until they are 25 or 26 so it might be too early to give up on McDonald or Gillies.

  • Vinnsanity0412

    I love the assumptions regarding Mike Smith. If he leads this team to the promised land, or at least the conference final, you’re telling me they don’t offer him a one year deal as Rittich’s back-up? We shall see!

    • qphoss

      I’m sorry, but that’s a scenario that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me… Unless the Flames can somehow unload Neal’s contract, they’re not going to have a lot of cap space left next year once they sign Tkachuk & Rittich. So, if you’re Smith and you ‘lead the team to the promised land’ AND you don’t want to retire at the top of your game, why would you want to follow that up by playing a season as Rittich’s backup for a relative pittance, which all the Flames will likely be able to afford? There will be other teams looking for a recently-successful veteran goalie that will be able to offer a better deal than the cap-constrained Flames. OTH, if you’re the Flames and you’ve built a contender by finding young talent and locking them into (relatively) inexpensive long-term contracts, why would you pour money into a short-term deal with an ageing goalie whose performance has been inconsistent for the past 2 seasons? The only reason I can imagine the Flames wanting Smith for another season is if they are still uncertain that Rittich can carry the load, and if that’s the case, that doesn’t bode well for upcoming playoff success…

      I like Smith – he’s handled a difficult year with a lot of poise and class and I hope that both he and the team enjoy every success in the playoffs. But the reality is that if Smith has a great post-season AND he wants to keep playing next year, I very much doubt he’ll be doing it in a Flames jersey.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Mike’s time is now or never. He’s been looking better against mostly non-playoff teams and a couple of good ones (SJS was reeling at the time). That’s a goalie that isn’t looking like a long term option. Not in the top 30 in SA%. Hasn’t won a lot of recent games against tough teams. I do give him props for losing to the Oilers and blowing 2nd overall for them in the draft.

  • Brian McGrattan's Salute

    However you slice it, this team needs to catch a break in the goaltending department. We don’t really have too much to spend next year on an nhl goalie, and as mentioned in the comments here, our current roster of prospects aren’t doing too well. Ideal situation? Rittich is a good starter with .910+ numbers, and this new signing comes in a plays a really good game as a backup (or starter).