by PuckStopsHere on 06/25/16 at 01:50 PM ET
Last year the Calgary Flames goaltending was bad. They expected Jonas Hiller to carry the load but he struggled. He posted a .879 saves percentage and a 3.51 GAA. This was one of the worst goaltending seasons in recent memory. Their other options were better than Hiller but still below average in Karri Ramo (.909 saves percentage), Joni Ortio (.902 saves percentage) and Niklas Backstrom (.882 saves percentage). Calgary would improve significantly if they could find a reliable goalie who would merely perform at the league average.
Yesterday they did better than that. They traded with St Louis to obtain Brian Elliott for their second round pick. St Louis selected Jordan Kyrou from the Sarnia Sting of the OHL.
Elliott posted a .930 saves percentage last year which was the highest among goalies who played a significant number of games in the entire league. Elliott received a few votes for the Vezina Trophy as a result but since he shared his time in St Louis with Jake Allen was not taken as seriously as the clear number one goalies.
Elliott has posted some good numbers in St Louis but has never been a true number one goalie as he will in Calgary. If he can keep up the numbers he has posted he will be a star. Even if his numbers drop, he will likely be above average in the league.
The Calgary Flames acquiring a number one goalie can be compared to the recent Toronto Maple Leaf acquisition of Frederik Andersen. Toronto gave up a first round draft pick that was acquired from Pittsburgh (Sam Steel of the Regina Pats was selected) and a second round draft pick in 2017. In all likelihood the second round draft pick will be around the position in the draft that this Calgary pick went (35th overall), if not earlier. The first round draft pick was traded for Andersen in addition to the second round pick. Andersen's numbers in 2015/16 were not nearly as good as Elliott's were. Andersen was not that much better than Toronto's existing pair of goalies in James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier. Elliott is well above any goalie Calgary used in 2015/16. Elliott was cheaper to trade for and has not immediately signed a contract to pay him $5 million a year for five years. Frederik Andersen signed such a contract and there is a good chance that before year five Toronto will regret the signing.
Elliott is about five years older than Andersen (31 vs. 26 years old). Hence he may not have as bright a future. He is only signed for one more season and then he could become an unrestricted free agent. Calgary may re-sign him in that time and they may do so for less than the price of Andersen.
It isn't clear that Toronto has an above average goalie but they paid a big price for him and will be paying him a big salary for the next several years. It is more likely that Calgary has an above average goalie. They may not have him for as long, but if things work out he can be re-signed. All told Calgary will almost certainly have better goaltending than Toronto next season. Beyond that who knows? The answer for either team may be in some other goalie who we are not considering yet.
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