It has been no secret that goaltending woes have significantly hurt the Flames this season. While it's unfair to heap all the blame on the goaltenders, they have left much to be desired. With both Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo being pending UFA's after this season, there's definitely some open doors to plan for the future.
With this in mind, we can look at a few teams that may offer a solution to the Flames' goaltending situation without having sacrifice a lot or any of the future. There are some options open to the Flames and honestly things can only get better then where they are right now.
This is Part 1 of 3 articles on the Flames goaltending solutions, parts 2 and 3 will come out in the next week or less.
Unrestricted Free Agency:
Carolina Hurricanes G Cam Ward 32 years old
With the Hurricanes acquisition of Eddie Lack this past summer from the Canucks, it seemed that Cam Ward's time with the team may be coming to a close. However, Lack has struggled thus far this season and Ward has taken the starting role for the team. He's 18-15-7 with a 2.43 GAA this season and has a .907 sv%.
The Hurricanes are sitting six points out of the playoffs and with their offseason acquisition of Lack, it seems more likely that they would be resigning former Conn Symthe trophy winner Cam Ward.
Ward's play has been pretty good this season with his numbers close to his career average. He also would provide seasoned experience to the Flames net' and provide leadership for the young framework of goalies that the Flames have moving forward.
San Jose Sharks G James Reimer 27 years old
Given Reimer's situation in Toronto, his numbers shouldn't be overly interpreted as he was lucky to have an NHL calibre roster in front of him on any given night. Prior to his first game with the Sharks, Reimer's stats are 11-12-7 with a 2.49GAA and a .918 sv%.
Reimer soldiered through some difficult times in Leafland and also was a major contributing factor in the Leafs' one playoff berth in the 2012-13 season. However, following Reimer's trade to Sharks it seems that he's looking to playing on a winning team in his future and will use that as a big part of his future considerations.
I'm fairly confident that the Sharks will stick with Martin Jones after this season as their goalie of the future and they also have fairly limited cap space. However I don't see Reimer who just left a rebuild in Toronto being all that willing to move to a rebuild here in Calgary.
Nashville Predators G Carter Hutton 30 years old
While some Flames fans might not know the name Carter Hutton all that well, he provides an interesting option as a goaltender. The Predators are clearly set with Pekka Rinne being their number one goalie for the long term future and Hutton will likely be seeking the opportunity to become a starter elsewhere. He's currently finishing the last year of a two year contract with the Predators that pays him $725K and Hutton will likely hit the free agent market on July 1st.
Hutton's numbers have been stellar this season boasting a 7-2-2 record with a 2.16 GAA and a .922 sv%. He's played 70 NHL games and all but one with the Predators. His career numbers are 33-21-10 with a 2.54 GAA and a .910 sv%.
Hutton has the opportunity to prove himself as a capable starting goaltender and the Flames may seem like a good landing spot to do that as he would immediately be seeded at or near the top of the depth chart.
Restricted Free Agency:
Anaheim Ducks G Frederik Andersen 26 years old
First off, let me say that I'm wary of signing any former Anaheim Duck goaltender after the Jonas Hiller saga of the last two seasons.
Secondly, let me say how excited I'd be if the Flames were somehow able to pry away Andersen from the Ducks during this offseason. Andersen has been battling all season in net with John Gibson and with Gibson being locked up until 2020 at 2.3M per season, there's a lot for the Ducks to like about his contract.
Andersen's numbers this year are 17-8-6 with a 2.22 GAA and a .922sv%. He has started more games than Gibson this year and played all sixteen playoff games for the Ducks last season. Gibson has similar numbers though which add to the dilemma.
The Ducks have an important yet enviable decision to make this offseason because it is very likely that Andersen will be provided a higher paying contract elsewhere. If another team is able to take Andersen from the Ducks, the compensation in return will likely be quite high. Both Andersen and Gibson are talented netminders that both have the potential to be top notch goalies in the future and I'm hoping the Flames at least take a sniff.
Winnipeg Jets G Michael Hutchinson 26 years old
The Jets definitely have more than enough cap space to resign Hutchinson if they choose to use it. The issue is that they currently have Ondrej Pavelec signed through next season and young prospects in Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie waiting in the wings to make the move to the NHL.
Hutchinson could be looking for more playing time next season as well as in finding job stability. He may struggle to find the latter in Winnipeg for the long term future. Hutchinson's stats aren't great this season but he showed strong flashes last season finishing with 21 wins in 36 starts. This season, Hutchinson is 7-12-2 with a 2.99 GAA and a .904 sv%. Plus, it would be fun to add a fourth Michael to the team.
Hutchinson will likely be a cheaper option to sign than Andersen and has the potential to improve into a solid netminder. The Flames would also have to return lower picks if Hutchinson's contract is less than Andersen's contract per the RFA rules. These rules are the same as the rules the Flames followed when getting Dougie Hamilton from the Bruins last season.
While the UFA goaltenders will be easier to sign, the RFA goaltenders present more promise for the longterm future of the Calgary Flames net. Vote in the poll below which goalie you'd most like to have wear the Flaming C next offseason, or vote none if you don't like any of the options. Part 2 should be out shortly which will cover potential trade options for the Flames this offseason.