Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving was a guest on Sportsnet 590’s Hockey Central at Noon on Thursday. When asked by host John Shannon who would be his team’s starting goaltender when the 2019-20 season opened, Treliving had a pretty interesting response.
Obviously we’ve got David Rittich that we’ve got to get a contract done with, and we will. And we’re looking right now. That looking is… Mike Smith was here last year, the last two years, pending unrestricted free agent come Monday.
We’re just trying to balance what we think will best support and work with David, quite frankly. We think David’s got the opportunity to continue to grow and be a number-one here. I thought he had a terrific year last year, really his first year of playing the number of games that he played. So we’re going to continue to look and see how best can we round out our goaltending tandem and how does it best support David and work with David.
Once that’s done, I’ll give you a better idea, but I would suspect David Rittich would be our starting goalie.
Rittich, 26, has quietly become arguably the organization’s best goalie developmental success story in decades – Trevor Kidd is probably the last netminder in this conversation. Originally stumbled upon by pro scout Derek MacKinnon while he was scouting Daniel Pribyl, he was signed as minor league depth – a pro veteran who could push the likes of Jon Gillies, Tyler Parsons and Mason McDonald. Instead, he ended up leap-frogging them.
Rittich has progressed from playing the third period of Game 82 in 2016-17 (playing 20 minutes), to taking over the backup gig when Eddie Lack flamed out in 2017-18 (playing 1008 minutes), to supplanting Mike Smith as the team’s de facto starter in 2018-19 until a knee injury slowed him down in the second half (playing 2503 minutes).
Aside from not getting a bit banged up, Rittich has done virtually everything the Flames could have asked of him. Now, barring a massive change of heart from his GM, he’ll start his fourth North American season as the number one goalie for an NHL team.