The Calgary Flames surprised some people today as they went and signed Tom McCollum to a two year, two way deal.
McCollum's two-way deal:— NHLnumbers (@NHLnumbers) October 15, 2016
2016-17: $575k NHL/175k AHL
2017-18: $650k NHL/$200k AHL https://t.co/t39j2pel3k
Where McCollum fits within the organization is yet to be determined. Calgary spent 4.3 million on the tandem of Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson and Jon Gillies is the goalie of the future and will remain the starter in Stockton. That leaves the backup spot with Stockton or somewhere on the Adirondack Thunder roster.
The Thunder also have one of the Flames promising young goalies in Mason McDonald so it remains to be seen if he would even start there, though McDonald is not quite as seasoned as Gillies is. It would be rather odd to stack a guy with an NHL contract in the ECHL, but that could be the plan. Stats from goalies out of the QMJHL are unpredictable even as far as goalies are concerned and while it would be ugly to see a goalie picked with a second round pick falter in the ECHL, the insurance would help.
Ultimately the real reason that this contract was signed doesn't necessarily have anything to do with talent, but the upcoming expansion draft. The Flames need a goalie that is eligible for the draft. Per article three of the player exposure requirements chapter -
One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
One and two year professionals don't qualify, so that currently doesn't describe anybody on the Flames roster. While thy could re-sign Elliott, only having him available could result in Las Vegas selecting him which would leave the Flames without a proven starter once again. Gillies could assume that roll, but McCollum's relatively cheap contract ensures that he doesn't have to be thrown into the fire if he doesn't appear ready.