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Flames Re-Sign Goalie Prospect Matt Keetley

The Flames have announced the re-signing of 2005 fifth-round pick Matt Keetley to a one-year, two-way deal that will see him earn $62,500 with the Abbotsford Heat and $500,000 at the NHL level. Keetley struggled somewhat in his third season with the Flames' farm club, and spent nine games with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL. Although his stats were fairly average (10-7-1, 2.59GAA, .912SV%), he was, for the most part, no better or worse than the club's two other goaltenders last season: former first round pick Leland Irving and free-agent addition David Shantz, which resulted in much confusion over who the Heat's #1 'tender was then and going forward. Shantz has since moved on to the Manitoba Moose, which should help alleviate the crowded crease somewhat, but if both goalies don't up their respective games next season and Heat once again find themselves languishing at or near the bottom of the league in goals for, they will inevitably struggle. Having been drafted in 2005 and 2006 respectively, one of these guys should be emerging as the clear-cut number one by now, and the fact that neither has is cause for concern for the Flames, even given a goaltender's tendency towards delayed development. 

Not re-signing Shantz and adding Henrik Karlsson certainly makes sense from a development point of view; Keetley and Irving are two guys who didn't play their best hockey last season, and splitting starts between three goalies and limiting their ice time makes it more difficult for them to take steps forward, but the Heat could find themselves looking for some help in nets should they lose either Keetley or Irving to injury or if one or both of them fail to improve upon past performances. Youngster Joni Ortio will be joining the Swift Current Broncos next season after being selected in the CHL Import Draft, so it will be easier for the organization to keep tabs on him, but after a fairly long history of drafting goalies that have failed to make any real impact at the NHL level since Mike Vernon, all eyes are, understandably, on these two.