At the 2016 NHL draft, two inevitable courses collided. With St. Louis putting their future in Jake Allen, and the Flames in one of the worst goaltending states the league has seen in a while, Brian Elliott ended up in Calgary.
Now whether this is just a short-term fix for the Flames or Elliott re-signs and becomes their new franchise goaltender, Calgary sure seem to have stolen a starting goalie. This will examine why trading for Brian Elliott was one of the best deals the Flames could have made to put a stop to their horrendous goaltending troubles.
He’s a Top Tier NHL Goalie
If there’s one goalie in the NHL who is underrated, it’s Brian Elliott. Elliott proved himself to be consistently reliable in his time with St. Louis and was able to cover up defensive liabilities from the Blues’ offensive defence core. This season, Elliott had the highest save percentage of any goalie who played 14 games or more, at an incredible .930, and was third in the same category when it came to goals-against average with a 2.07 GAA. Fun fact- when contrasting this to Jonas Hiller’s .879 save percentage, numbers suggest Elliott would actually stop 51 more shots per thousand than Hiller, Calgary’s former starter who had double the cap hit of Elliott.
Best Save Percentage since start of 2011-12 season
1. Cory Schneider .926
2. #Flames Brian Elliott .925
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 25, 2016
He Doesn’t Drain Calgary’s Cap Space
Will Elliott’s cap hit at a mere $2.3 million for next season, Calgary will have room to sign franchise pieces Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. This number is minuscule compared to what could have come with the likes of Marc-Andre Fleury, Cam Ward, or Ben Bishop, had the Flames gone a different trading route. Sure, if the Flames hope to re-sign Elliott after next season they’ll likely have to at least double his salary, but even then he’d be only an average paid goalie producing great results.
It’s a Low-Risk, High-Reward Trade
Think about it- Calgary got one of the top goalies in the world for just a second round pick. Sure there’s conditions for another pick on top of that, but Frederik Andersen, who really isn’t even considered to be an A-level NHL goalie, went for both a first and a second round pick. Arguments could be made that’s because Elliott has only one year left on his contract, while Andersen was still a restricted free agent, but that being said, what if Elliott does re-sign with Calgary?
At 31 years old, he still has a good three or four years left in the tank (maybe more if he proves to be another Luongo anomaly), and could help to push the Flames to become a top team in the West. Elliott will be the best goalie to slide through Calgary’s crease since Mikka Kiprusoff half a decade ago, and even if the worst does come and Elliott doesn’t re-sign, Calgary found themselves a good short-term fix and gave up very little to do so.
Ben is a journalism student at Ryerson University and covers the Toronto Maple Leafs.