Calgary Flames: Elliotte Friedman breaks down goaltending options

Mar 29, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames goalie Chad Johnson (31) guards his net during the warmup period against the Los Angeles Kings at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames goalie Chad Johnson (31) guards his net during the warmup period against the Los Angeles Kings at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Calgary Flames need to find a reliable number one goalie this offseason and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman listed a number of intriguing options for them.

The bad news for the Calgary Flames is that they have no idea who their two goalies will be in 2017-18, with both Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson set to hit the free agent market. The good news for the Flames is that the goalie market (both in trade and in free agency) will be extremely high this offseason.

With top target Ben Bishop signing with the Dallas Stars and Scott Darling joining the Carolina Hurricanes, two of the primary options are off the table for the Flames. But as The New Day from WWE would say — “Don’t you dare be sour!”

Sportsnet’ Elliotte Friedman spoke with with Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 yesterday to discuss some possible candidates for general manager Brad Treliving to pursue. Chris Nichols from FanRag Sports was kind enough to list what Friedman proposed.

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Friedman expects the Stars to buy out Antti Niemi if Vegas doesn’t select him in the expansion draft. Perhaps the Flames look to chase the 2010 Stanley Cup winner?

But Friedman wonders if the Flames go bargain shopping for goalie help, instead of chasing the big fish:

"“I wonder – does Brad Treliving have any tremendous feelings one way or the other on Mike Condon. Maybe what he does is he goes back to Johnson and Elliott for one more year.You’ve got a lot of goalies there who are prospects who are maybe a year or two away. Maybe that’s the decision that you guys end up making…Maybe the option is he brings back Elliott and/or Johnson for another year until your kids are ready.”"

Asked if the Flames could go for New York Rangers backup, Antti Raanta, Friedman noted that he’s “a good name to mention” but is fairly undersized (6-foot, 195 pounds). And finally, he was asked about the Flames going for the big fish — Marc-Andre Fleury from the Pittsburgh Penguins:

"“Fleury obviously is the guy at the top of the list, no question. And to be honest, if it was Calgary and that was the best option, it wouldn’t surprise me if Marc-Andre Fleury said, ‘Fine.’”"

Niemi, Raanta, and Elliott don’t fit

If the Stars buy out Niemi, that doesn’t mean the Flames should chase him. Yes, he won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and registered four 30-win seasons with the San Jose Sharks. But we’ve seen many goalies perform well with those two juggernauts. Niemi had plenty of help in front of him.

Ever since arriving in Dallas, Niemi has been as mediocre as it gets. He had a woeful 2.67 goals against average and .905 save percentage in 2015-16. Far and away his lowest totals in six years. This season, Niemi surrendered a mind-boggling 3.30 goals against average and .892 save percentage. He’s not someone the Flames should trust to fix their problems in the crease.

As for Elliott, there’s no reason for the Flames to bring him back at this time. He was far from reliable in the postseason and doesn’t deserve a second chance to prove his doubters wrong. Time to move on.

Raanta does make sense, should the Rangers decide to trade him. But with 35-year-old star Henrik Lundqvist ageing and struggling to stay healthy, New York may decide to hold onto him as insurance. Even then, Raanta has never played more than 30 games in a season. Could the Flames really believe that he’s a long-term number one goalie?

Related Story: Monday Roundtable - Goaltending Edition

Best fits

Mike Condon does make sense for the Flames. With Craig Anderson missing time for the Ottawa Senators (as his wife battled cancer), Condon held his own and helped his team reach the playoffs. He went 19-14-6 with a .914 save percentage and a 2.50 goals against average — terrific numbers for a second-year backup.

If the Flames strike out on landing their main targets (we’ll get there shortly), then Condon would be a nice addition. Perhaps he and Chad Johnson could split the duties. But that’d be risky for Treliving to hand the keys over to a pair of career backups.

Fleury would be a terrific fit, but as I wrote last week, his strong performance in the playoffs will probably drive up the asking price. One that Treliving might not be able to afford.

If Calgary can find a way to nab Fleury, then that would erase all long-term concerns in goal. But they won’t be the only team after him.

Next: Make Fleury the Next Flames Starting Goalie

This is going to be an offseason that’ll greatly define the tenure of Brad Treliving as general manager of the Calgary Flames. With so many intriguing options in goal, he’s under a ton of pressure to make sure he picks the right one.

Buckle up, Flames fans. The Calgary Stampede won’t be the only rodeo in town — because there’s a huge goalie search on the way.