14
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

2020-21 Reasonable Expectations: David Rittich

As one of the biggest hockey personalities out of Alberta, David Riitich, provides the 2020-21 Calgary Flames with one of the team’s greatest goaltender tandems in recent history. Backing up fellow European, Jacob Markstrom, it’ll be interesting to see if Rittich can give his goalie counterpart a run for the number one role.

How he got here

Hailing from Jihlava, Czech Republic, Rittich was first brought to the attention of Flames brass when scout Derek MacKinnon was scouting forward Daniel Pribyl, with Sparta Prague playing host to Mida Boleslav BK. While Pribyl ended up signing with Calgary, the real catch was when the team also nabbed then 23-year old David Rittich. In his last season BK Mlada Boleslav of the Czech league, first as a starter, Rittich went 26-22 with a .918 save percentage, good for 4th in the league among all goaltenders with minimum 20 games played.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Following a breakout season in the Czech league, “Big Save Dave” had a great first season across the pond, going 15-11-5 with a stellar .924 save percentage and 2.27 goals-against average in the 2016-17 season with the Stockton Heat, also getting in on one period of NHL action. Since then, Rittich has amassed 115 games at the NHL with a .908 save percentage and a 2.82 goals-against average, the last two seasons as a 1a/1b goaltender.

Rittich is heading into the second year of his two year 5.5 million dollar contract.

2020-21 expectations

Due to his colourful personality and fan-favourite acts (who didn’t love his remix of the bat flip?), it has been the hope of many that Rittich develops into the starting goaltender for the Calgary Flames. Given the long-term signing of Jakob Markstrom at $6 million a year for 6 years, it seems more likely that Big Save Dave ends up becoming a starter elsewhere. Can he continue to force the coaching staff to run a 1a/1b system, or does the introduction of Calgary’s first established goaltender since Miikka Kiprusoff push Rittich back into a more traditional backup role? Let’s see what the numbers say:

Player Games played (2018-2020) SV% (2018-2020) GAA (2018-2020) High Danger SV% (2018-2020) High Danger GAA (2018-2020
David Rittich 93 .922% 2.36 .842 1.17
Jacob Markstrom 103 .922% 2.55 .837 1.43

* All stats are via Natural Stat Trick

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • Out of 71 goalies who have played a minimum of 20 games from 2018 to 2020, Rittich and Markstrom are tied at #27 for 5v5 save percentage at .922. The former played 93 games during this period and the latter played 103.
  • Rittich ranked 24th out of all goalies in GAA, whereas Markstrom ranked 42nd
  • Rittich also did better at 5v5 in terms of high danger save percentage and GAA, ranking 19th and 8th respectively. Markstrom ranked 24th in high danger save percentage and 37th in high danger GAA
  • All listed metrics were recorded at 5v5 play, with only goalies who played a minimum of 20 games from 2018-2020 being ranked

Granted, the Flames were much better than the Vancouver Canucks from 2018 to 2020, with that being said it’s certainly promising to see how well Rittich fared in his 5v5 play, especially when compared to a solid goaltender in Markstrom. The Jihlava native’s downfall comes during his special team’s play, with his poor penalty kill performance resulting in him falling down to the middle of the pack when analyzing metrics measuring all strengths play. Markstrom, on the other hand, has done much better during these situations, elevating his ranking higher than Rittich’s when evaluating all strengths play. The stats for all strengths play by both goaltenders can be seen below:

Player Games played (2018-2020) SV% (2018-2020) GAA (2018-2020) High Danger SV% (2018-2020) High Danger GAA (2018-2020
David Rittich 93 .909% 2.80 .837 1.28
Jacob Markstrom 103 .915% 2.76 .836 1.45

* All stats are via Natural Stat Trick

While Markstrom’s save percentage and goals-against average are significantly better than Rittich’s, the Swedish goaltender once again under-performs in high danger situations. Rittich does exceptionally well in both these categories, coming top 15 in the league in both high danger save percentage and goals-against average. With that being said, expect Markstrom to get the majority of the starts for the upcoming season, with Rittich ideally starting against teams that generate the most amount of high danger scoring opportunities.

Regardless of how playing time is allocated, the Calgary Flames will have an excellent goaltending tandem for the 2020-21 season. During a shortened NHL season, this will be vital due to the increased importance of each game. In all likelihood, Rittich could see a decline in starts from the previous two seasons, especially if Markstrom builds off his stellar play during the 2019-20 season. Thus, it seems like this could be the last season we see Rittich in the Flaming C, with the flamboyant goaltender likely opting to chase his NHL dreams elsewhere.