At this time last year, former Calgary Flames goaltender Cam Talbot made it clear he wanted the chance to be a number one goalie, whether it be in Calgary or somewhere else. While he was able to get that chance in the playoffs months later, it was evident he was not thrilled about being the teams backup for the majority of the regular season.
Given his comments about wanting to be a number one goalie again, whether with the Flames or another team, it sounded as though Talbot may find a new home in the offseason. After that, I wrote about the three pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) goalies that the Flames should consider to backup or split the net with Rittich. Of course, the three who I suggested in Anton Khudobin, Thomas Greiss and Ryan Miller were never on Calgary’s radar.
While Talbot left, signing a three-year deal with the Minnesota Wild, the Flames had bigger plans for their goaltending situation and signed the biggest name on the market, that being Jacob Markstrom, to a massive six-year deal.
Today, the Flames looks very different from a year ago. Not only is Talbot gone, but Rittich as well, traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline. The goalies in Calgary are Markstrom and Louis Domingue. Considering Domingue has yet to play in an NHL game this season and doesn’t have the best track record, the team will be looking for an upgrade behind their starting goalie for the 2021-22 season. Here are three pending UFAs who management should consider bringing in to help Markstrom next season.
3. Antti Raanta
Antti Raanta of the Arizona Coyotes is an intriguing option who will likely explore free agency this offseason. The 31-year-old has had an unfortunate career, but has proven in the past he has all the tools to be a quality starter, he just has never stayed healthy. While his numbers this season are nothing to write home about, he has been a very impressive goalie in the past.
At his current cap hit of $4.25 million, he would not fit with the Flames. However, his injury troubles, along with his 3.36 goals-against average (GAA) and .905 save percentage (SV%) this season, suggest he will be forced to take a pay cut on his next deal. If he does, he could become a huge bargain for whatever team chooses to sign him, and general manager Brad Treliving would be very wise to chat with him.
2. Laurent Brossoit
While he isn’t as likely to hit the free-agent market as Raanta, Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit is without a contract heading into next season. The 28-year-old is a familiar face to the Flames organization who drafted him in the sixth-round (164 overall) in 2011. While he didn’t see any action with them before he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers, he may be interested in returning to the team that helped launch his NHL career.
For the most part, Brossoit has found success in Winnipeg behind Connor Hellebuyck. Outside of an off season in 2019-20, he has produced good numbers. In 12 games this season, he has a 2.39 GAA along with a .922 SV%. The one concern is that hasn’t received much playing time behind one of the best goalies in the league. However, that wouldn’t be a big issue in Calgary, given that he wouldn’t be leaned on heavily with Markstrom in the fold. He would likely command a cap hit similar to his current $1.5 million deal, making him very affordable.
1. Jaroslav Halak
This option might be out of left-field, but if the Flames could land Jaroslav Halak, it would be huge. The 35-year-old has been a solid starter and has been arguably the best backup in the league with the Bruins the last three seasons. Whether he has any desire to sign with the Flames is unknown, but he is worth calling. The Bruins’ main focus heading into the offseason will be to get Tuukka Rask re-signed, and with 22-year-old Jeremy Swayman playing well this season, Halak may not be offered an extension.
While Halak’s numbers have dropped a bit this season, he still has a solid 2.45 GAA along with a .909 SV% and a 9-6-3 record. He would bring a veteran presence to the Flames’ dressing room with 538 career games, and he is still a very capable backup. As mentioned, he was also a starting goalie for many years, meaning if Markstrom misses time as he did earlier this season, Halak can capably take the reins. Again, this one seems unlikely, but if he does hit the market, Treliving has nothing to lose by giving him a call.
While they still have the rest of the 2020-21 season to play out, the Flames will need to address their goaltending situation this summer. All three names listed above are intriguing options and are some of the best available, though teams should be interested in all of them if they hit the market. Unfortunately, after these three are few available options out there, meaning Treliving should strongly consider bringing in one of them.
Former Jr. A player turned writer. Cover both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, and am part of both the Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.