Is Dan Vladar’s future up in the air due to Dustin Wolf’s AHL heroics?
Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
There are plenty of question marks surrounding the future of the Calgary Flames roster. Not only does interim general manager Don Maloney have to find the person he believes is the right replacement for Brad Treliving, but while he sits in that GM seat, he also needs to address the roster and the players that may or may not want to stick around after their contracts are up.
However, the situation is different in the crease. Both goaltenders are signed for at least two more seasons, and Dan Vladar, the goalie I want to focus on today, is getting a raise for the upcoming 2023-24 season.
From $750,000 to $2.2 million, the backup goaltender is going into next season looking to perform much better than he did in 2022-23. In 27 games played, Vladar held a record of 14-6-5 with a 2.87 goals-against average and .894 save percentage. He also registered minus-5.25 goals saved above expected (GSAx), which was 50th out of 63 qualified goaltenders (minimum 800 unblocked shots against). For only 27 games and 65.47 expected goals against (xGA), which ranks 55th out of the 63 goaltenders, is not great.
This brings us to the conundrum that is the future of this team’s goaltending situation. As I mentioned, Vladar’s contract increased as the result of an extension signed in October, but now that a new goalie has pushed his way into the scene, it would seem that Vladar and the Flames are in a sticky situation.
Everyone has heard of Dustin Wolf by now, but if you haven’t, here’s a little refresher. The 22-year-old goaltender, drafted in the 7th round of the NHL Draft, 214th overall, is the player in question. He was incredible for the Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Calgary Wranglers, this season, playing 55 games and posting a 2.09 goals-against average and .932 save percentage, both of which led the league. He held a record of 42-10-2, which also led the league, and he had 7 shutouts, which, you guessed it, lead the league.
Wolf ended up winning the MVP award for the AHL, which was the first time since 2004 that a goaltender had the honour of winning the award. It’s not a surprise that he won it, but it’s still impressive nonetheless.
After the Flames were officially eliminated from the playoffs, Wolf got his chance to make an impression at the NHL level, making his NHL debut against the team he grew up watching, the San Jose Sharks. He allowed only one goal and had a .952 save percentage, and fans, even before this game, were clamouring for the young goaltender to be brought up to try and keep the goaltending afloat while the team in front of them tried to figure out their own issues.
So, what should the Flames do? You have a goaltender that recently signed an extension but was bad last season, and his potential doesn’t touch what we’ve seen from Wolf so far. But, he signed an extension.
The good news is, I’m sure there would be teams looking for a 25-year-old decent backup goaltender on a team-friendly contract. I don’t think Vladar is going to consistently hold a sub-.900 save percentage. But, whether or not that’s actually in the cards that the Flames hold is the real question.
Wolf is the future of the Flames net, and Jacob Markstrom isn’t going anywhere. If Wolf hadn’t done as well as he did in the AHL this season, we may not need to have this conversation. But as for the future of Vladar with the Flames, it seems bleak.
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