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.
— z – Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) April 9, 2019
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.
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.