The Calgary Flames have used 15 goalies in seven seasons since Miikka Kiprusoff retired. Since his retirement, the team have been unable to find a comparable replacement and have not kept a starting goalie for more than three seasons. Brad Treliving has regularly signed or traded for older starting goalies in Jonas Hiller, Brian Elliott, Mike Smith and Cam Talbot, who have worked at times but never got them over the bump. That trend continued when he brought in Jacob Markstrom, but this time he handed over a long-term contract that made it clear that Markstrom was now the Calgary guy for the foreseeable future. His debut with the Flames did not go as planned as injuries kept him from entering and were a cause of his struggles while playing, so he will be looking to bounce back and stay healthy in 2021-2022. .
This offseason and in the last draft, the team has added young goalies to the organization and some could be on the verge of being the future starter. The team traded for the Boston Bruins’ Dan Vladar and signed Adam Werner after he failed to qualify by the Colorado Avalanche. Dustin Wolf also looks set to graduate from the WHL and play for the Stockton Heat this season. Whether it’s finding a starter or getting competent help as a replacement, Calgary finally seems to have some long-term solutions between the pipes.
Battle for the backup job
As training camp approaches, it looks like the backup job is on the line for Vladar. However, Werner will likely create a good battle for the training camp job. Vladar and Werner both played in the AHL over the past two seasons and posted decent numbers for their respective teams. Each goaltender also made their NHL debuts, with Vladar playing five games for the Bruins in 2020-21 and Werner playing two games for the Avalanche in 2019-20.
Vladar has played 78 AHL games and posted a career save percentage of 0.917 (SV%), which is slightly better than Werner’s 0.907 SV% in 46 career AHL games. He has also been on the North American rink for much longer as he moved to the United States Hockey League (USHL) in 2015 and played a total of 173 games in four different leagues. Werner should give him his money’s worth at training camp, but as it stands, it looks like Vladar will be backing Markstrom and should be a good candidate for the job. In his five games with the Bruins, he posted an SV% of 0.886, which was only weak with five goals on 17 shots in his last outing. In three of his five starts, he’s posted a save percentage of 0.950 or more and allowed just six goals on 89 shots.
Perspectives in the system
Many Flames fans have started to get excited about Wolf, who will be looking to start his first full season of professional hockey. In 2020-21, with the WHL still working out a schedule, Wolf played three games for the Heat, and after an unfortunate start, he followed it up with two solid starts. Returning to the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, he posted a 0.940 SV%, 18-3-0 record and four shutouts to prove his junior time is over. ECHL could be a starting point for him this season with the number of goalies the Flames have at the pro level, but Stockton should be where he ends up.
In the last two drafts, the Flames have selected two rather unknown goalie prospects in Daniil Chechelev and Arsenii Sergeev. Chechelev was not on many selection charts when he was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 Draft. Flames fans quickly began to pay attention to him as he won 10 straight games to start his season in the League. of junior hockey (MHL). He finished the year in the Supreme Hockey League (VHL) with an 8-7-3 record and an SV% of 0.912. He was tweeted by his agent that he will be playing in North America this season, and yesterday he signed an AHL contract with the Heat. Sergeev has already made the transition to North America and played his 2020-21 season in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) with the Shreveport Mud Bugs. After the season, he was selected in the seventh round of the 2021 draft. He is now expected to evolve and play with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm in 2021-2022.
Finally, there’s Tyler Parsons, who has had a tough road in his professional career up to this point. There were high hopes for him in Calgary after a stellar junior career in London that ended with a Memorial Cup victory. Since then he has fought injury after injury, and it has been a challenge to stay healthy and engage in meaningful playing action. He will most likely end up rebounding between ECHL and AHL, starting with Kansas City and covering injuries with Stockton. He is only 24 years old and if he can stay healthy this season, there is hope that his career will resume.
A bright future for Flames goaltenders?
The last goalie Calgary drafted and played over 40 games with the club was Trevor Kidd, who was selected 11th overall in the 1990 draft. Kidd played 178 games for Calgary and was 72-66- 26 and an SV% of 0.898. In the next 30 years, Joni Ortio made the second most appearances for the Flames after being drafted by the team, which stands at 37. In the years between Kidd, Kiprusoff and Markstrom, the prospect pool didn’t look very good, but after this offseason, Calgary’s goaltending pool has never looked so promising.
There are a lot of ifs in this season. For example, if Markstrom can get back in shape, if Vladar can continue his progression to become an NHL goalie, and if the young prospects can make a splash in professional hockey this season and beyond. When training camps come to an end in October and the depths table shakes, the Flames organization will have a promising young group behind Markstrom, from the NHL to the USHL. The organization now looks promising and stable for the first time in a long time, possibly the first time in club history.
Brett is a freelance writer covering the Calgary Flames here at The Hockey Writers. He is passionate about hockey statistics and continues to learn about the sports analysis movement every day. Brett enjoys using both statistical analysis and the old-fashioned eye test in his writing to create the best content for readers. His work at THW has been featured on the Calgary Flames news feed for The Score and on Yardbarker. Brett is also a part of THW’s Flames Faceoff YouTube / podcast where he gives his weekly opinion on the current state of affairs for the team.
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