The Calgary Flames were lucky enough to have Miikka Kiprusoff as their starting goaltender from November 2003 through to the end of the 2012-13 season. Since then, the Flames have tried in vain to find a replacement. For seven off-seasons, the team has seen newcomers jump onto their goaltending merry-go-round.
On July 1, Cam Talbot signed with the Flames on a one year deal. When he suits up for the club to begin the 2019-20 season, he’ll be the 13th different goaltender to play for the club in the post-Kiprusoff era. Rather than bringing him in to the The Answer in net, Talbot’s been recruited with an eye towards furthering David Rittich’s development as a top goaltender.
That said, he’s still the 13th different masked man that will play in net over the course of seven seasons. Here’s a look at the previous dozen passengers on the goaltending carosel.
A waiver claim during Kiprusoff’s injury-filled 2012-13 season, MacDonald headed into the 2013 off-season with an opportunity to win an NHL starting job with a good summer of work. He was criticized by Flames GM Jay Feaster for not taking that opportunity seriously and, after criticizing his team’s defensive commitment after giving up a bad goal – the puck was shot from the far corner and somehow beat him inside the near post – he was waived and sent down to the AHL for good. [11 GP; 5-4-1, 2.91 GAA, .891 SV%]
Ramo had his rights acquired by the Flames in a January 2012 trade with the Montreal Canadiens that brought Mike Cammalleri to Calgary, as part of Feaster’s “let’s bring in every prominent goalie outside of North America we can find” approach. Ramo came back from the KHL for the 2013-14 season and ended up sticking around for three full seasons, always as part of a tandem. He was never boring – his acrobatic playing style at times led to wandering from the crease – but his game was always pretty good, though not often great. [111 GP; 49-42-8, 2.63 GAA, .911 SV%]
Originally a Blues prospect, Berra’s rights were sent to the Flames in the Jay Bouwmeester trade and came over to North America for the 2013-14 season – in the second part of Feaster’s aforementioned approach. He swapped spots with MacDonald when the incumbent was demoted. He was calmer in net than Ramo, but wasn’t all that good. He was moved to Colorado when the Avalanche inexplicably offered a second round pick for him. (That pick was used to draft Hunter Smith.) [29 GP; 9-17-2, 2.95 GAA, .897 SV%]
A sixth round pick of the Flames in the 2009 NHL Draft, Ortio worked his way through the minor league system – playing in Europe, the ECHL and AHL before getting NHL action. He was solid if unspectacular, but the team seemed to lose patience waiting for him to find another gear and he left the organization as a free agent. [37 GP; 15-15-5, 2.66 GAA, .901 SV%]
The first of seven different goalies acquired by Treliving to play for the NHL club – Talbot makes eight – Hiller spent two seasons in a goalie tandem with Ramo. Hiller was sharp for his first season, helping the Flames make the post-season, and less sharp in his second season. He left the organization as a free agent. [78 GP; 35-30-5, 2.73 GAA, .905 SV%]
At the end of a woeful 2015-16 season, the Flames swapped David Jones to the Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline for a month of Backstrom’s contract and a sixth round pick. Backstrom, Minnesota’s third stringer, got to play in a few games and was adequate. The sixth round pick turned into Matthew Phillips. Backstrom left the organization as a free agent.
Acquired at the 2016 NHL Draft, Elliott helped get the Flames to the playoffs. The Flames were out-matched by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2017 playoffs, but Elliott was not good at all in that series and likely cost himself a second season. He left the organization as a free agent. [49 GP; 26-18-3, 2.55 GAA, .910 SV%]
A Calgary product, Johnson was a completely acceptable second-stringer. He seemed to wilt under the pressure of being the number one guy during stretches where Elliott faltered, and was traded to Arizona prior to the 2017 expansion draft as a pending free agent. [36 GP; 18-15-1, 2.59 GAA, .910 SV%]
A promising pick-up in the 2012 NHL Draft, Gillies was signed by Treliving after three strong college seasons. Thus far, he hasn’t seen his NCAA performances translate to the NHL (or AHL) level with any consistency. [12 GP; 4-5-1, 2.71 GAA, .903 SV%]
Acquired prior to the 2017 expansion draft, Smith performed admirably for the Flames given his age. That said, his propensity for puck-handling occasionally blew up in his face in his first season and did so with more frequency in his second season. A strong 2019 post-season wasn’t enough to justify bringing him back for a third season at the age of 37. He left the organization as a free agent. [97 GP; 48-38-8, 2.68 GAA, .909 SV%]
Acquired in a swap with the Hurricanes to give Smith a veteran backup – it wasn’t clear if Gillies or Czech import David Rittich could hack it – Lack lasted just four games before being waived, sent to Stockton and then traded to New Jersey. [4 GP; 1-2-0, 5.29 GAA, .813 SV%]
Signed as a European free agent, Rittich was brought up after Lack struggled as Smith’s backup. Eventually Smith was slowed down by injuries and inconsistency and Rittich got a chance to make a case for himself as a starter before a knee injury slowed him down in the second half of the 2018-19 campaign. He’ll open 2019-20 as the presumptive starter. [67 GP; 35-15-8, 2.70 GAA, .909 SV%]