Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames are hoping their goalies bring them value in 2019-20

For essentially all of Brad Treliving’s tenure with the Calgary Flames, his club has struggled to find stability in net. Several netminders have come and gone, and they still don’t have a definitive top goaltender. But heading into 2019-20, the Flames may be in a position where they can get some serious value from their goaltending tandem.

An inexpensive pair

The Flames have three goalies under one-way deals for 2019-20: David Rittich ($2.75 million), Cam Talbot ($2.75 millon) and Jon Gillies ($750,000). All due respect to Gillies, but he’s obviously the third-best option here and seems like a fair bet to clear waivers and head to Stockton.

Thus, the Flames’ 2019-20 tandem will probably be Rittich and Talbot for a combined $5.5 million cap hit.

A quick comparison: tandems

There are eight tandems league-wide that are going to be less expensive (cap-wise) than Calgary’s.

Team Goalies Cap Hits Career
GP (SV%)
90 (.907)
0 (n/a)
31 (.917)
441 (.912)
188 (.913)
63 (.910)
138 (.921)
2 (.943)
229 (.909)
10 (.909)
Tampa Bay
208 (.919)
219 (.909)
161 (.917)
50 (.917)
490 (.916)
113 (.909)
67 (.909)
288 (.915)

The Lightning are also paying $1.4 million to bury Louis Domingue and Mike Condon in the minors, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here and focus just on their two NHL goalies.

Of the teams spending less than Calgary, you can make good cases that Colorado and Tampa have better tandems than the Flames based on the excellence of Grubauer and Vasilevskiy, respectively. A case can be made for Pittsburgh based on Murray, if he’s healthy, and Dubnyk, if he gets run support.

But beyond those four teams, there are a lot of question marks across the board – players yet to establish themselves as top dogs (like Rittich) and players trying to reestablish themselves (like Talbot).

A quick comparison: individuals

There are 12 individual goaltenders slated to have larger cap hits on their own than Calgary’s entire tandem – four of them are from the Flames’ own division:

  • Montreal’s Carey Price ($10.5 million)
  • Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky ($10 million)
  • NY Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million)
  • Boston’s Tuukka Rask ($7 million)
  • Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury ($7 million)
  • Anaheim’s John Gibson ($6.4 million)
  • Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck ($6.17 million)
  • Washington’s Braden Holtby ($6.1 million)
  • Chicago’s Corey Crawford ($6 million)
  • New Jersey’s Cory Schneider ($6 million)
  • Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick ($5.8 million)
  • San Jose’s Martin Jones ($5.75 million)

The reasoning behind throwing this much cap space at a single goalie is pretty obvious: these guys are all pretty damn good in net (or have shown the capability to be). These guys represent seven of the last eight Vezina Trophy winners – the eighth award belongs to Pekka Rinne and his $5 million cap hit.

But some of these guys have been hampered by age, injury, or both, and that makes it really challenging to work around their cap hits if they can’t be consistently superb. If you’re the Flames, the risk is spread between two guys and so their ability to maneuver remains relatively intact.

Aspiring towards league average goaltending

The Flames had a 90.3 save percentage in all situations last season – 21st in the NHL but just a smidge below Columbus in 16th (the midway point of the league rankings). They almost had league average goaltending despite (a) Mike Smith’s early season struggles and (b) Rittich working through a knee injury in the latter stages of the season. With a bit more balance in their tandem, and hopefully fewer peaks and valleys, it’s not unreasonable to expect the Flames’ netminding to improve and approach the midway point of the league.

Managing the cap is a challenge for all 31 teams. The Flames have obviously chosen to put their money towards their core offensive players – names like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano and (eventually) Matthew Tkachuk. If the Flames can get league average goaltending that can give them a chance to win most nights, it’ll be more than worth the scant $5.5 million they’re spending.

    • Budgie

      The Oilers had a number one fan and employee assistant to the trainer-Joey Moss-he was inducted into the Alberta sports hall of fame, he was born with Downs Syndrome. Gretzky got him the job, it was the most classy thing in Pro Sports-I applaud the Oilers and Eskimos for including Joey Moss in their organizations. Thumbs up!

        • Budgie

          I do mention the Gretzky trade but I know the Fans didn’t trade him, no offense. Calgary traded: Brett Hull, Joey Mullen, and Doug Gilmour in rapid succession, they let Martin St. Louis walk, and fired Terry Crisp after he won a Cup as coach.
          Owners and management do their thing-why the Oilers wanted Smith at 37 and Neal who has slowed down is amazing. I like Smith but Talbot is younger and so is Lucic-age wise Calgary won

          • Abagofpucks

            We dealt a bad contract for a lesser bad contract, neal could bounce back with offenseive help. Loochich won’t, and smith was the best option for the money we could spend. We didn’t swap goalies, but it looks like we did, that’s pretty much it.

          • The Red Knight

            Abagosucks Neal is useless and your basically paying him 6.5 mill to have him , we pay Lucic now only 5.25 , at least anytime I seen Lucic play it looked like he at least cares,The real deal Neal will bring nothing but a stupid grin on his face . Flames got tougher and Soilers got the worst contract in the NHL now 6.5 bubbs!

        • Budgie

          Joey earned his place, after Gretzky left Joey stayed, and the Eskimos hired him. He proved himself to the teams and proved that disabilities can be overcome. A chromosone defect, Down Syndrome is widespread and can happen during any pregnancy. Hats off to the Oilers and Eskimos, Joey was part of something big and motivated the teams.

    • The juice

      The problem is most of raffydog’s takes are garbage or just meant to troll. I don’t know what abagofpucks said but raffy has zero credibility, so it’s hard to believe him.
      And for the record Joey Moss is an awesome story, and having lived in Edmonton he’s a better fan/person than half the city.

      • Raffydog

        Just go back a few articles and you’ll find it. Abagofpucks thinks it’s ok to make fun of special Olympians. Maybe you’re ok with that, but I deal with kids with special needs on a daily basis, and btw, they are the most amazing people you will ever meet, and I think his comments are deplorable, and he should be banned from ever commenting on any nations sites. Are the advertiser’s on here ok with being lumped up with that kind of hateful speech? If I was one of them I would pull all my money out of this site until they deal with people like that. How anyone can say hurtful things, or condone the things being said about these amazing people is beyond me.

          • Raffydog

            Wow, and he is still allowed to spew his venom on this site. I will personally contact every advertiser on all nation sites, and point out that the people who run this are helping to promote hate speech against the disabled unless this sad excuse for a human being is banned for life. This is deplorable behaviour that cannot be ignored.

          • HOCKEY83

            You only asked the question because you were trying to be a smart ass. In that context it was an obviously negative comment regarding the special olympics.

          • Captain Ron

            His comment was certainly distasteful and completely out of line but calling it “hate speech” is an over reaction on your part. It also does not qualify as racist either. Your more sensitive to his comment because of your daily relationship with the disabled and less fortunate among us. I’m not intending to make excuses for him either as his comment was stupid and way out of line to be sure.
            If anything bagopucks it would be classy for you to apologize for your dumb comment and then everyone move on from it. Just realize that not everyone finds what you said amusing or funny in any way. There is no point in trying to justify what you said and explain it away. It was in really bad taste period.

      • Budgie

        Gretzky dated Joey’s sister, it was a reminder of being humble, how appreciative Joey was of his heroes and he did a good job-passing out equipment and helping the trainer, nice to see the players high 5 him. Total class

          • Budgie

            I bet he loved that-Gretzky offered to pay his wages even after he was traded-
            The Oilers can call their season “The Neal Deal” its a toss up which Neal will show, at least Calgary isn’t expecting the world from Lucic, just some sand paper out there

    • wot96

      Raffy is passionate and hates most of the moves management has made. That makes him hard to read and often even harder to agree with but he isn’t always wrong and he has a right to his opinion, even if almost everybody else here thinks he is wrong and says so.

      He also usually keeps it pretty respectful. So it looks like you pushed a button that you shouldn’t have pushed. Maybe give it a rest for a while, even though you too have a right to post – just because you can do a thing it doesn’t mean you should.

      • Albertabeef

        Ok seriously all bag of pucks said was “They had olympics, what the special ones?”

        That is all he said. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this comment. You all have blown this all out of proportion. This comment does not imply any hate towards the special Olympics or their participants. It’s nothing compared to us kids in the 80’s, using Joey’s “Grethsky” when someone did some uber special. Usually when making fun of a friend who did something stupid. Also was used to make fun of Gretzky and the Oilers. But we were kids in a politically incorrect 1980’s, and well kids are cruel. I will be honest, I have never used it to insult Joey and I would feel bad if someone felt I did. However my buddy from Red Deer did a bone head thing and got hit with it and laughed. He has a much darker sense of humor than I do. I only pulled it out to see if he caught the reference, and then I got a story of him selling weed to Ryan Smythe in the 1990’s lol.

        • Captain Ron

          The politically incorrect days were a hell of a lot more fun than this ultra sensitive BS we have going on now in the world. But hey I guess I’m a dinosaur.
          I was called out on the carpet and chastised by Ari once for suggesting that the Women’s Olympic Hockey Team had a better power play than the Flames did. At the time it was 100% true but there I was being blasted with both barrels. I still don’t understand what the big deal was. Suddenly being accused of anti feminism or something like that. Sheeesh.

  • Bond 0097

    The value village idiots finish first in the division, then trade for the worst player off their arch nemesis, and then sign a goalie from same arch nemesis team that sucked the last 2 years and you think you improved the team? BAHAHAHA

      • Abagofpucks

        We pay grandlund 1.3 which isn’t bad, chiasson had 22 gs and 16 a’s 2.15 which isn’t out of line for 38 points, smith old goalie yes but 2 mil on a 1 year for his pedigree isn’t horrible, you guys paid neal the contract he got but getting rid of lucic makes it ok for now, we will deal with it.
        Russell is an over pay but he does help us more than he hurts us, yes an over pay but just 2 years left we can deal with it no problem.

      • Abagofpucks

        everybody needs an allstar goalie but you nor the oilers do.
        We will see if you guys get all those goals this year, my bet is you don’t.
        We will still own you in the boa.

        • The Red Knight

          What’s this still ? You don’t own anything but a lottery pick record for being a bottom feeder team for as long as I remember, I bet Flames have a similar season actually, this is a young allstar core that is only gonna get better every year . Look at the roster , Kylington ,Valimaki,Dube,Mangiapane etc are just being added to an already young core , watch and learn like I said the past two years that FLAMES will become number 1 in there division and in the conference , nothing going to change Bennett becoming an impact player and now we got the big loochness monster to give the team the extra push it was looking for , I can’t wait myself , I’m sure your looking forward to another bottom 5 finish and another draft lol oh and hoping your 1 player gets an award for something. Yeshhh what a debacle of epic proportions!!!

        • The Iggy complex

          I’m fine of three Oilers win every game against the flames but are still on the basement, which they will be, and Calgary is near tops in the West.

          I get all the trolling. This is the only time of the year there is any excitement in Edmonton. Then when season starts back to depressing hockey for you to watch

  • Bond 0097

    Smith or Talbot, Smith is 10 times the goalie Talbot ever dreamed of being
    Lucic or Neal, Lucic is 10 times the has been Neal will never be lol.
    Cowtown really knocked it out of the park with these 2 genius moves

    • Captain Ron

      Well I guess we are going to find out.
      10 times the goalie eh. OK
      If nothing else it should be fun times with Lucic and Smith still on opposite teams!

      • Albertabeef

        Smitty has played about twice as many games in his career than Talbot and doesn’t rely on his first two seasons to inflate his career average like Talbot. Talbot’s first two seasons he had a .940% and a .926. His last two seasons he averaged .900% combined., Mike averaged a .907% over the last two seasons. Not an argument for Mike, just showing a lack of inspiration of Talbot. I’m hoping Talbot bucks his trend of a diminishing save% or it will be a long long season.

  • Korcan

    “And now for something completely different.” Since there is not much else to discuss, let’s speculate on who else gets traded to make Calgary cap-compliant come October and how that will affect the lineup on Oct.3.

    Now that Stone has been bought out it is unlikely Brodie gets traded (imo), so my money says it will be either Frolik or Jankowski. They would likely prefer for it to be Frolik, but due to their wealth of forwards capable of playing center, I won’t be surprised if it is Janks.

    Based on these pure assumptions, the following are two possible lineups we see come fall (I’m also making the assumption that, being the highest paid player in Flames history, Tkachuk will be playing on the top line).

    Gaudreau – Monahan – Tkachuk
    Bennett – Backlund – Lindholm
    Mangiapane – Ryan – Dube
    Lucic – Jankowski – Czarnik

    Giordano – Brodie
    Hanafin –  Hamonic
    Valimaki – Andersson



    Gaudreau – Monahan – Tkachuk
    Mangiapane – Bennett/Lindholm – Lindholm/Bennett 
    Lucic – Backlund – Frolik
    Dube – Ryan – Czarnik




  • Director772

    I think we will have good goaltending this year, BSD will be healthy and Talbot will return to form with a good defense in front of him and lots of time off to regroup and regain his form.

  • cjc

    That is a very interesting comparison, though it is a bit of a vaccum (e.g. next year Tampa’s goaltending costs skyrocket). Goaltending is the major wild card for this team, as always. Still, it looked like things would turn out really badly last year and it wasn’t SO bad in the end (or at least they overcame shaky goaltending). Here’s hoping they can do it twice.

  • The Red Knight

    Columbus at 2 mill cap for two goalies, I know they lost the big brob but still , who here thinks Talbot will end up with the starter job and who Rittich? Or shared ? I’m hoping Rittich takes it to the next level but I’m not sold on him yet , Talbot could do well here .

    • oilcanboyd

      Red Knight, I am not sold on ANY of the 4 goalies tending the twine in Alberta! For the Oilers, Smith could wind up getting hurt in pre-season and miss the first 2 months then come back ineffective. Koskinen plays like Koskinen which is not very well.
      For the Flames, Rittich did not make as good an impression in the second half compared to the first half of the season. Could be injury or could be injury plus drop in confidence. Watching Talbot fluff on shots at starts of games or at inopportune times during games for the Oilers last season does not instill confidence.
      Fans of both teams are hoping for the best from their goalies and I am hoping that the best for both happens. Who knows we may end up with a Russian KHL goalie in nets like the Oilers….

        • SouthernFlame

          That’s a long shot. Rittich is our number one. Did you watch even half the games last season? Yes he can be a number one. Smith will injure himself within the first 2 months of the season especially with the D that’s in front of him. Do any of you not remember the flopping? He does it to prevent injury.

          • The Red Knight

            I watched 90% atleast and I don’t remember Rittich having to steal any games . HOW many games has Rittich played in the NHL ? Bonified starter ? Not yet not by a long shot

      • Squishin

        Come on Harvey, I don’t think that’s fair. The tandem numbers were cool, and it’s nice to see that the Flames’ entire goaltending costs are under the singular cap hits from other goalies. Martin Jones lol

        • HarveysFleaCollar

          How many times this summer has it been the same story changed a little..I can count at least 4 with the new arena. The writing here has gone down hill since Ari left. Pije beats the proverbial dead horse, the two new guys well keep on trying boys. Oh..and Steinberg. Not a fan of him but he is slowly becoming the best contributor here. Good thing for the comments…

          • Albertabeef

            Harvey is right, writers on here are crap. Being in another province sucks for following my Flames. I don’t come here for the writings of the authors, I come for the comments. Especially for post game comments that give more insight than the writers on here do. This is about the only place I can really get my Flames hockey talk in. Hell just today Pike posted that Linus Lindstrom had twice as many goals assists and points than Linus actually had last year. I’m sure I’m not the only one who come for the comments more than the posts.

          • Albertabeef

            I did not put my name in because of professionalism. Flames coverage sucks on the coast and I felt it would irresponsible of me to attempt to cover the team from out here. Also not fair to the readers if I can’t have access to things people want to know. I do my best to educate others through the comment section, and that will have to do. If I still lived in Cowtown, I would have jumped at the opportunity. At least I would be accurate with my facts unlike some of these authors.

          • Bobby Bitman

            If you do not enjoy the content here, may I suggest that you cancel your subscription, get your money back and get your Flames fix somewhere else. Or perhaps you could join the writing team and pull the content back uphill.

          • I’m guessing you don’t create anything. If you can do better, by all means put yourself out there to the same garbage attacks you are doing right now. Brutal that you bother to even criticize the site and still read and comment as often as you do. I am not saying that fair criticism isn’t sometimes warranted but your blanketed smearing of the site and authors is uncalled for.