With the departure of Mike Smith, it seems pretty evident that Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich will begin the upcoming season as the de facto starter. At the very least, he’ll be the 1A. But as the Flames and Rittich’s representatives hash out a new deal for the restricted free agent, a look at recent contracts signed by goaltenders point towards an interesting realization: contractually, there aren’t many goalies like Rittich out there.
Rittich is 26 years old. He has three seasons of North American hockey under his belt: one in an AHL tandem, one where he worked as an NHL backup, and one where he played just over half of an NHL season. He’s signed three consecutive one year contracts. He’s a year away from unrestricted free agency and he’s made 67 appearances in an NHL crease.
We’ll get into specific types of comparable statistics (and players) that can be used in arbitration closer to the hearing date, but here’s an interesting comparable: 27 different 26-year-old goaltenders have signed contracts since the end of the 2015-16 season. One of them was Freddie Andersen’s lengthy extension. A very large number of them were short-term deals for career minor leaguers or tweener depth goalies.
But we found five recently-signed goaltenders that are the closest to Rittich in terms of age and experience. (Stats via NHL.com.)
|Laurent Brossoit||49||39||.911||$1.250m (1yr)||May 29/19|
|Darcy Kuemper||84||72||.912||$1.550m (1yr)||July 5/16|
|Philipp Grubauer||99||78||.923||$3.333m (3yr)||Jun. 23/18|
|Louis Domingue||96||82||.907||$1.150m (2yr)||Jun. 22/18|
|Jacob Markstrom||101||90||.904||$3.667m (3yr)||July 7/16|
As you can see, everyone but Brossoit has more experience than Rittich. Of these players, you could argue that Markstrom and Grubauer are the “best” comparisons in the sense that both guys were penciled in to be starters for their respective clubs, but both of them were more established NHL players so shelling out north of $3 million per year wasn’t necessarily as risky.
If I’m Rittich’s agent, my thought process is to start with a discussion of a three year deal for around $3 million per season and then maybe settle for something closer to what Cam Talbot got from the Flames. The Flames don’t really have anybody in their system that’s as good as Rittich, so they don’t have a ton of leverage. But based on how weird the closest comparables are – none of them are amazing close – it’s hard to argue that Rittich has a ton of leverage either.