Jess Belmosto The Hockey Writers
Flames’ Goaltending Has Real Depth
There are a lot more goalies in the system than you might be aware of. Learning more about these players and where they stand in terms of contracts, might help you decide where you stand on the goalie controversy.
The 27-year-old, Czechoslovakian native has spent his career with the Calgary Flames. He debuted in 2016-17 after playing for the Czech Republic years prior. In his four year career with the Flames, he has played 115 games and started 106 of them with a 59-32-14 record. The 2019-20 season has not been Rittich’s best. He’s allowed a career-high 136 goals in just 48 games, with a .907 save percentage (SV%).
Slumps are inevitable in any player’s career. This could be a delayed “sophomore slump,” as this is only his second season playing more than 30 games. His stats at home are a cause for concern, though. In 20 games started, Rittich held a 9-7-3 record. Most teams would like to see a little more success at home from a goalie of his tenure.
Cam Talbot was able to call Edmonton his home for four seasons before being sent to the city of brotherly love. The Flames signing him after his brutal year in Philadelphia with an .881 SV% raised some eyebrows. He proved everyone wrong as he came into his own as a Flame. Talbot picked up the slack when Rittich fell into a slump. In 26 games played, he’s 12-10-1 with a very impressive .919 SV%.
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Talbot saw a lot of success against divisional teams. Going 7-2 against competitive teams is something worth noting when looking at his stats. He is a free agent come July 1, and an extension could be worth considering when you look at the goalie market.
Jon Gillies is a whopping 6’6” weighing in 220 pounds. Think Ben Bishop — he saw a lot of success in the 2019-20 season. Before the AHL suspended its season, Gillies had a record of 14-10-4-1 with a .907 SV%. He was the 75th overall pick in the 2012 draft. At the end of the season, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. For the success of the Stockton Heat, and with the possibility of being called up to the Flames, it would be worth signing him.
His size sets him apart from a lot of other goalies out there and it puts him at an advantage. We’ve seen people talk about how hard it is to get one past Bishop. It’s similar with Gillies. I would like to see more development with Stockton, especially with Rittich’s contract expiring next season. While he has seen 12 games with the Flames, there wasn’t much success there. However, he has added a few more years of development under his belt. I think we could see him as a starter in the NHL in the next few years.
The second half of the Stockton Heat’s tandem is 6’2” and 180 pounds. He played 30 games this season and earned a record of, 16-7-4-2. In his first AHL season, Zagidulin had a SV% of .898. The Russian-born player is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
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Zagidulin had a lot of success in the KHL. His SV% never dropped below .924 in the four years he played there. His first season in the AHL was cut short. While the mentality of athletes is different than us average Joe’s, moving to a new country and playing for a different league has to be an adjustment period. What I do like about Zagidulin is his ability to catch the rebound. He’s completely locked in and doesn’t lose sight of the puck. I believe with more time in the AHL he will see time in the NHL and serve as a fantastic NHL backup somewhere someday.
Tyler Parsons is currently playing for the Kansas City Mavericks in the ECHL. He was the 54th pick in the 2016 Draft and is in the final year of an entry-level contract (ELC). He has bounced between Kansas City and Stockton during his career but hasn’t broken into the NHL quite yet. Before the cancellation of the season, Parsons had a record of 11-9-0-1 in 25 games.
Parsons has the quickness and ability to control the puck, and isn’t afraid to spread himself out to throw himself in front of it. The 22-year-old has the potential to see the AHL soon. With proper development, I do see him having a lot of success in the AHL. If he stays within the Flames organization I believe a tandem between him and Jon Gillies would be unstoppable.
Nick Schnider appeared in 39 games with the Mavericks. Schnider struggled with a 13-20-3 record and an .882 SV%. This was his final season before becoming a restricted free agent.
Unfortunately, I don’t see this one panning out. The transition from league to league is a lot harder as you move up the ranks. You can be a big fish in a little pond when you’re playing with guys your age for the majority of your career. Your skills get challenged when you’re playing against a variety of talent and ages.
Goalies in the Juniors
Dustin Wolf is an 18-year-old goalie for the Everett Silvertips. In 46 games, he had an astounding .936 SV% and 34-10-2 record. Wolf was drafted by the Flames in 2019 and has yet to sign an ELC, but he’s showing promise at the WHL level.
Something that stood out to me was how tiny he is. He’s 6’0” and 160 pounds. Goalies like Tukka Rask and Jordan Binnington are also tall and built like beanpoles, so mass isn’t the end all be all.
Wolf shows a lot of promise. He’s young and has a fire underneath him coaches love to see. Not having an ELC yet could be used as a motivator for him to continue to thrive in his early developmental stages. With the way things are going there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’ll see the NHL.
The cancelation of the ECHL and WHL season has halted the development of these promising prospects. Some will need more time in their respective leagues and others many never see the Saddledome. With hard work and determination, these players will fulfill their potential.
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