The Toronto Maple Leafs have made their third move of the 2021 Trade Deadline, acquiring goaltender David Rittich from the Calgary Flames in exchange for Toronto’s third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
The Flames retain 50% of Rittich’s $2.75 million salary. The 28-year-old netminder has posted a .904 save percentage and 2.90 goals-against average in 12 starts and three relief efforts so far this season. Rittich has shown a penchant for making timely saves and has earned himself the nickname: “Big Save Dave.”
Maple Leafs Get Goaltending Insurance
There’s been some speculation regarding the health of the Maple Leafs’ embattled starting goaltender, Frederik Andersen. He’s been on injured reserve since a lower-body injury sidelined him on March 19, 2021. Since then, Jack Campbell and Michael Hutchinson have been carrying the load.
Related: Trade Deadline Tracker
Campbell has yet to lose a game this season. He’s 11-0-0 with a glowing .934 save percentage and 1.88 goals-against average. Hutchinson has also played well when called upon. His .919 save percentage and 2.42 goals-against average are statistically superior to the numbers posted by Rittich so far this season.
However, the taxi squad goaltender for the Maple Leafs is Veini Vehvilainen. He hasn’t seen a lot of NHL action. Neither have AHL goaltenders, Joseph Woll and Ian Scott. If an injury were to occur to Hutchinson or Campbell, the Maple Leafs would be forced to rely on unproven goaltenders. Rittich eliminates that fear. It’s possible he could compete with Hutchinson for the backup job, but he’s likely there to act as a security blanket against the fear of goaltender injury.
Flames Embrace Reality a Bit
With 15 games left to play, the Flames are six points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the last playoff spot in the North Division. The Canadiens have three games in hand, though. Making the playoffs at this point is a nearly insurmountable task for the Flames. Since Brad Treliving took over as general manager, in 2014, the Flames have only made it beyond the first round once. This will be their third time missing the playoffs in seven seasons with him as the general manager.
It is in Treliving’s best interests to try to move some salary and acquire some assets for players on expiring deals if he is able to. Acquiring extra draft capital doesn’t necessarily require him to use the draft picks to draft players. Due to the expansion draft, there will be teams who trade players in return for picks. If Treliving has some extra draft capital up his sleeve, he can pounce in the offseason.
That’s going to have to be his tactic if he wants to try to have his team make a quick turnaround. Trading Rittich and getting a third-round pick in return is the first step towards that. He’s going to be hard-pressed to get anything more than a third-round pick for any of his expiring unrestricted free agents. His most valuable trade piece may end up being restricted free agent Sam Bennett. If the Flames end up not trading Bennett, the third-round pick from the Rittich trade might be the most valuable asset Treliving is able to acquire at the deadline.