On the night before the trade deadline, the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs were making headlines across the league, as the Flames traded goaltender David Rittich to the Leafs in exchange for their third-round draft pick in 2022. The move comes just days after Rittich was questioned about the potential of being traded to another team, despite being a Flame his whole career. “Don’t try and make a story here. This is my team and I want to stay with this team as long as I can,” said Rittich following a loss last week.
New Look for Rittich
It didn’t take long for things to change for Rittich following his convincing response about wanting to stay in Calgary, but in a season where the Flames are desperately trying to save what’s possibly left of making the postseason while mainly trying to improve the team for next season, changes were expected to be made. He is a highly animated goalie who plays with fire and passion, and sometimes his emotions can show on the surface, but he has always owned his personality. Rittich plays at the top of his game when he is invested emotionally, and he leaves behind some impressive stats with the Flames because of it.
According to Salim Valji of TSN, Rittich heads to Toronto tied with Roman Turek for seventh place for most wins as a Flames goaltender with 63. He also stands at ninth place in minutes played with 7,068, and lastly, he finished his time in Calgary 12th in save percentage (SV%), at.908.
Related: Trade Deadline Tracker
He has seen his fair share of a heavy workload over the years, but he hasn’t been as relied on this season since the Flames acquired Jacob Markstrom. It may be difficult for Rittich to get games in right now with the Leafs, but every team needs to have at least three goaltenders that they can rely on in a season with COVID-19 protocols, and with Freddie Andersen out due to injury, Rittich could see some time in the crease soon. It’s clear the Leafs are trying to bulk themselves up for a playoff run, so Rittich will have a real opportunity to win a Stanley Cup now with the North Division’s best team. The deal for the Leafs is significant because they secured the depth in the net they desperately required before heading into the playoffs.
Getting a Fair Return
The Flames are likely not done making deals yet, but this was a great way to start things off for Brad Treliving. I think this deal has the potential to be beneficial for the Flames because if we look at Rittich’s contract, he is set to become an unrestricted free agent and possibly wouldn’t have resigned in Calgary at the season’s end. The Flames are also retaining 50% of Rittich’s remaining salary this year. I feel that a third-round pick in 2022 is a great deal because if Rittich stayed till the end of his contract, the team potentially wouldn’t have gotten anything for him in return.
Rittich has proven with a record of 63-39-15 that he is capable of owning the crease, but he needs to play consistently in order for him to stay sharp. That has been an issue this season, as he is 4-7-1 with a 2.90 goals-against average. If he can find consistent playing time in blue and white, the results will be sure to follow. (From ‘Flames trade Rittich to Maple Leafs for third-round pick,’ Toronto Sun, 04/11/21)
Part of the Business
Being traded from the team that gave him his first shot, and the team that has seen him as a mainstay on their roster for the last four seasons was likely difficult news to comprehend at first, but Rittich should have his head held high going forward. He now has a real chance to play for a contender and bring hockey’s ultimate prize back to a Canadian city, and the Maple Leafs are getting themselves a remarkable human in Rittich.
Having him in the Flames’ organization came with a bonus, as his brother Tomas is truly so much bigger than hockey. Living with autism, Tomas was always bringing a smile to the faces of Flames fans, and David loves playing for him, too. “Everything I do, I do for him (Tomas). I want to make him proud. He doesn’t get that opportunity, so I’m doing it for both of us,” said Rittich. I look forward to seeing how Leafs Nation embraces their new goalie and his wonderful family, as well as seeing Rittich continue to play his heart out for them.
This was a smart move for both clubs, but one that certainly pulls on the heartstrings of Flames fans who appreciated Rittich. He was so much more than a goalie to this city, he was a perfect example of what it means to be gracious with your time. In the meantime though, Louis Domingue will be the backup to Markstrom, and Artyom Zagidulin has been assigned to the taxi squad from the AHL’s Stockton Heat. The Flames’ next game happens to be against Rittich and the Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday.
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