After being a big spending in previous seasons, the Calgary Flames were relatively quiet on July 1 this year. Their lone significant move was signing free agent goaltender Cam Talbot. Flames general manager Brad Treliving chatted with the assembled media on Monday afternoon at the Saddledome.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) July 1, 2019
Before discussing Talbot’s addition, Treliving expressed appreciation for Mike Smith’s contributions to the club – given the netminder’s departure in free agency to Edmonton.
“I thought he came in at a time, gave us some stability in net,” said Treliving. “I think he’s a big part of David [Rittich’s] development over the course of the last two years and wish him the best.”
This off-season, one of the Flames’ stated goals was to find somebody to work with and complement Rittich’s continued development as a top goaltender. Treliving believes that his team has found that in Talbot, who he spent a month with in 2016 (as did head coach Bill Peters) at the World Hockey Championship.
“There’s an experience factor,” said Treliving, citing Talbot’s experience playing in different roles. “His game, his size, what I like to call it’s a quiet game with him. And also the personality. I think that’s a big part of it. I think we have two goaltenders, there has got to be a push to each other – you want them to push each other, there’s a competitiveness obviously to make each other better, to make themselves better – but there’s also a relationship when they’re voting for the other guy, they’re rooting for the other guy when he’s in the net… We know the personality’s going to fit.”
When asked why he has confidence that Talbot can turn things around – and why the Flames’ net is the right spot for that to happen – Treliving elaborated a bit about the process the club went through when examining the free agent goalie market.
“To me it’s not taking a snapshot as much as taking a body of work,” said Treliving. “The other thing with Cam is that he’s just right in the prime of his career. He’s a young 31. I look again at the calmness of his game, his size, technically very sound. As we were going through this process… the people in our organization that know this spent a lot of time looking at Cam as well as some other goaltenders and felt some of the things technically that maybe he had some difficulties with, that those are fixable areas.”
In addition to Smith moving on, the July 1 signing frenzy also saw Garnet Hathaway sign a four year deal with the Washington Capitals. That move was bittersweet for Treliving, as a player the club found and developed cashed in on the open market – they’ll miss the player and the role he was able to fill – but his departure also potentially opens the door for expanded roles for young players in the Flames’ system like Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane.
“With every departure that happens, it opens up opportunities,” said Treliving. “We certainly continue to have people that are knocking on the door. Dillon’s a perfect example, Andrew’s a perfect example. They showed last year, at least Dillon did early on in the season and had a terrific year in the American Hockey League. His goal is to be a regular member this year. Andrew, like I said, showed really down the stretch last year, played some impressive minutes for us. Now, he wants more.”
While their flexibility is constrained somewhat by their cap situation, Treliving noted that the team will keep looking at opportunities to improve themselves. But their main focus for the balance of the off-season will likely be their restricted free agents, led by Matthew Tkachuk.
“Matthew is a big part of our team now and will be a big part of our team in the future. So, we’re singularly focused on getting that done and it remains priority one for us,” said Treliving.