Ortio, Gillies, McDonald, Parsons pass the torch around
In 2009, the organization drafted Joni Ortio in the 6th round. His development was, let’s call it non-linear. He would have a decent season with a terrific World Juniors, but then get loaned all over Finland for a year before bouncing back with a great World Championships, then get demolished in a couple AHL appearances but look good in Finland.
Eventually, he put together a solid season with the Abbotsford Heat in 2013-14 and the Flames had faith again. It didn’t last long, and it led to that awkward three goalie rotation with Ortio, Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. The Flames couldn’t figure out which one was the best until they realized none of them were any good.
The Flames would then take a chance on a huge goaltender in the 2012 NHL Draft. Jon Gillies was taken in the third round and he immediately turned into a stud goalie at Providence. After two great college seasons and a couple of World Juniors appearances, the Flames were more confident than ever they found their new long-term number one.
The 2015-16 season saw him play just seven games due to injury, though he looked good for the Stockton Heat. However, this past season was his fourth straight where he posted mediocre numbers at the AHL level and now could be a free agent on October 9th.
Before the Flames gave up on Gillies, in fact right when he looked at his best, they drafted Mason McDonald in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft.
McDonald is another big goaltender and he put up decent, yet unspectacular numbers in the QMJHL for three seasons. He did look great for Canada at the World Under-18 and a couple games at the World Juniors in 2015 so it was thought a more structured team and league would make McDonald look even better than he did in the Q.
That wasn’t the case as he has never looked comfortable at the AHL level and just finished his fourth consecutive season at the ECHL level. He didn’t get an NHL or AHL contract after the 2018-19 season.
Just two years after taking McDonald in the second round, the Flames pinned their future hopes on Tyler Parsons. Just before being drafted, Parsons led the London Knights to an OHL and Memorial Cup title.
Parsons had another great OHL season and was the starter for USA at the 2017 World Juniors, but his transition to pro hasn’t gone smoothly. He is an RFA after three seasons where he couldn’t get his GAA below 3.00 in the AHL. He is still just 23, but isn’t giving the organization the same hope he did a few years ago.