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A Statistical Look at 12 Potential Flames Goalies

The Flames will need a goalie. Fortunately there are plenty of options.

Reimer is probably the best option for the Flames this offseason.
Reimer is probably the best option for the Flames this offseason.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A few days ago Matchsticks broke down the statistics behind Joni Ortio and it became pretty apparent that if he's the starter next year then the Calgary Flames will be in trouble. Fortunately there is quite the buyers market out there for goalies at the moment and the team will have plenty of leverage.

Rumours as to which goalies the Flames will go after have run rampant.  The purpose of this isn't to credit or discredit any of those rumours, but rather take a look at some of the names that have been thrown around on Facebook, Twitter, and other accounts of social media.  The methodology will be similar to that used for Ortio.

For individuals who would like to take a look at the methodology, please take a look at the statistical piece on Joni Ortio.  The same three-year projections that were performed on Ortio were done on each of the 12 goalies including the 50 percent AHL adjustment.  Ortio was included for comparison's sake.

Some of the individuals mentioned were mere one offs and haven't been mentioned much beyond once or twice by random pundits.  Others have a legitimate amount of fire to their smoke.  Here are each of their chances at finishing above each category sorted by the Marcel adjusted save percentage:

Marcel Shots
Average 31-60 TOI (Backup) Average Top 60 TOI (NHL) Average Top 30 TOI (Starter Worst Backup (Jonas Hiller) Worst Starter (Kari Lehtonen) Best Backup (Andrew Hammond) Best Starter (James Reimer)
Save % 0.9205 0.9255 0.928 0.8954 0.909 0.9405 0.9396
James Reimer 3566.6 .9272 78.37% 57.85% 46.21% 99.99% 98.36% 5.92% 7.27%
Ben Bishop 4390.8 .9272 80.60% 58.42% 45.51% 100.00% 99.08% 4.10% 5.24%
Marc-Andre Fleury 4519.8 .9266 78.63% 55.42% 42.36% 100.00% 98.95% 3.31% 4.29%
Craig Anderson 4327.4 .9258 74.80% 51.12% 38.52% 99.99% 98.39% 2.92% 3.78%
Jhonas Enroth 2974.4 .9252 68.82% 48.49% 38.12% 99.92% 95.61% 5.21% 6.31%
Calvin Pickard 3249.4 .9250 68.86% 47.60% 36.83% 99.94% 96.09% 4.30% 5.29%
Semyon Varlamov 4732.4 .9247 70.89% 45.43% 32.73% 99.99% 98.12% 1.74% 2.33%
Jimmy Howard 3718.7 .9241 66.34% 43.41% 32.29% 99.96% 96.19% 2.69% 3.42%
Chad Johnson 3171.8 .9238 63.95% 42.68% 32.44% 99.90% 94.55% 3.52% 4.34%
Jonathan Bernier 3996 .9234 63.71% 39.91% 28.81% 99.97% 95.96% 1.90% 2.47%
Jaroslav Halak 3706.7 .9232 62.09% 39.15% 28.53% 99.94% 95.04% 2.14% 2.74%
Darcy Kuemper 3274.8 .9207 50.80% 30.14% 21.46% 99.69% 89.67% 1.61% 2.05%
Joni Ortio 2855.8 .9193 44.93% 26.51% 19.00% 99.15% 84.70% 1.66% 2.07%

Here are their reviews from first to worst.

James Reimer


For all intents and purposes, Reimer is the guy that the Flames should be targeting.  He is an unrestricted free agent so he will not cost them any future assets other than cap space.  This is fantastic for a rebuilding team.  He also lead all targets in expected save percentage over the next three years.  He'll be 28 next season, so the regression won't be to high in two or three years when the Flames will hope to compete.  He's the ideal goalie for this team.  He has the greatest chance at being an above average starter of all goalies.


Being that he's a free agent, his cost is unknown moving forward.  If it's similar to Fleury's 5.75 AAV then it's worth it, but it could potentially be more than that.  He has a bit of a reputation to some as being a bit of a headcase (back in the day some called him the NHL's Tim Tebow) and that may turn some people off, but those are just narratives.  His sample size is not as high as it is for Bishop or Fleury, so he could be further off in the projections.

Ben Bishop


Bishop has been very good over the years and has a large confidence due to the sample size.  Many consider him to be the prototype goalie given his size.  The Lightning have a bit of a cap issue which may lower his cost a bit.  He has the greatest chance at being an above average NHL goalie of all goalies listed.  He's also known as a puck handler which may help the Flames a bit.


He has a reputation of breaking down at the absolute worst possible times.  He is also a free agent after next year and is going to want a leviathan amount of money meaning that the Flames would be giving up assets for a one year rental during a rebuilding year.  Yes they would get the right to renegotiate before anybody else could, but depending on the package, that might not be worth it depending on how much money he wants and how much the Lightning want.  He also has a no movement clause and nobody knows if he would actually want to go to Calgary.

Marc-Andre Fleury


He's been a starter in the league for years now and is one of the more proven individuals in the study.  He's almost definitely above average for an NHL goalie during the next three years.  Unlike Bishop, he's controlled for three more years instead of one so there is a known cost beyond next season unlike Bishop.  He has multiple championships to his name, one as a starter and one as a backup.  He has a 12 team no trade clause meaning that he must be protected in the draft and the Penguins will not want to leave Matt Murray exposed, so in theory he should come a bit cheaper.


He's coming off of injury and was just usurped in Pittsburgh.  The whole thing about him coming cheaper in theory doesn't look like it will come to fruition in actuality as the Penguins are reportedly asking for a first round pick (incorrect reports have said that they wanted the Flames first round pick, but in all actuality they only want a first round pick and not one that's necessarily as good as the Flames').  At 31 next year, he stands to undergo negative regression right when the Flames rebuild should be taking shape.

Craig Anderson


He's still been very good for the Senators and would provide the Flames with a veteran presence.  He's under contract for two more years; an ideal term for the Flames as they should have prospects ready after that.  He's over 1.5 million cheaper than Fleury or Bishop, something that could be quite useful for the Flames given their cap situation.  There's no clauses or anything that would prevent Calgary from acquiring him.  Ottawa may look to unload him given that Andrew Hammond is younger and had the highest EVSV% in the league last year.


There are no real indications that Ottawa is actively shopping him.  At 35, he stands to get worse over the course of the next two years, though how much worse remains to be seen.  Given that he hasn't been actively shopped, it's unknown how much the team would have to give up to make him a Flame.  While the confidence is high, it isn't quite as high as it is with Bishop or Fleury.

Jhonas Enroth


His lack of sample size means that he should be considerably cheaper than the other individuals on the list.  Like Reimer, he's an unrestricted free agent meaning that the only asset Calgary would have to give up would be cap space which would allow them to hang on to their prospects and picks.  He's younger than Bishop, Fleury, and Anderson so he wouldn't be prone to breaking down quite so much.  There will be less competition for him, so the Flames should be able to pick the term of the contract pretty easily.


The lack of sample size also means that there's a wide swing as to just how good he could be.  He's the first goalie on the list that's projected to be below league average.  He's considerably smaller than most goalies, something that some individuals aren't a fan of although it hasn't really hurt his performance.  He hasn't handled a starter's roll and may be better served in a backup or 1A/1B type situation.  He didn't play a ton for the Kings last year.

Calvin Pickard


As a restricted free agent he would probably be cheaper in terms of contract cost compared to anybody else on the list thus far.  He has a stronger sample size than Enroth does.  He carried the stars roll in the AHL and player quite a few minutes so he would he could be used as a starter at the NHL level.  He would be another low risk, high reward type player and along with the likes of T.J. Brodie and Johnny Gaudreau he would leave the rest of the league pondering how the Flames kept finding these diamonds in the rough should he pan out.  He's young and his best years would occur as the Flames are hitting their peak in the rebuild.


Reto Berra was just flipped to the Panthers, so there's a good chance that the Avalanche are going to move forward with him as their backup.  The cost to acquire him probably just went up because of that, though how much would have to be seen.  He still stands to be slightly below average overall and is still developing.  The chances that he's below average compared to Enroth is slightly higher.

Semyon Varlamov


He has a record as a starting goalie in the NHL unlike Enroth and Pickard.  He's a former Vezina candidate and the Flames could look to recapture that spark.  He's younger than Bishop, Fleury, and Anderson so there shouldn't be as much negative age regression.


He was accused of domestic violence and while he was cleared of all charges, the prosecutors didn't exactly clear him of wrongdoing.  Acquiring him would certainly make some fans lose respect for the franchise.  He's coming of quite the down season where he was out-performed by both Berra and Pickard.  While there were some rumblings that the Flames might be interested, there was no indication that the Avalanche reciprocated to those talks at all.  With the departure of Berra, it looks like Colorado will move forward with Pickard and Varlamov.  His projections came out worse than those of an average NHL goalie.

Jimmy Howard


He's been a starter in the league.  He's a veteran.  The Red Wings are looking to dump him, so he shouldn't cost too much in assets.


He's been quite bad and getting worse.  Petr Mrazek beat him out for the starting job.  The 5.3 million AAV would be quite steep for a team with limited cap space next year .  At 32, he isn't getting any younger.  There's a limited no trade clause there and it's unknown whether Calgary is on that list.  Since he is getting considerably worse with age, the three year term is probably a bit too much to take on.

Chad Johnson


Another unrestricted free agent, he wouldn't cost the Flames any players or picks.  He should also be considerably cheaper than Howard or Varlamov along with most of the others on the list with the exception of maybe Pickard.  Despite being a backup, he had a pretty good sample size as a goalie this year as the Sabres' couldn't keep their netminders healthy.  He's from Calgary and may take a home town discount.


He'll be 30 next year, so it isn't like there's potential there.  He pretty much is what he is which looks to be an above-average backup.  While he was good last year, the season before that with the Islanders was an unmitigated disaster as he was one of the worst goalies in the league and he would seem to be very up and down.  If he'll sign for 900 thousand or less, he might be worth the investment, but he wouldn't be enough of an upgrade over Ortio to warrant the extra money spent.

Jonathan Bernier


Has a record as a starter and is still only 28.  He was stuck with a terrible Maple Leafs team which has lead to speculation that he might be better than the numbers indicate.  Toronto just acquired Frederick Andersen which has lead to speculation that Bernier might come cheap.


He's been pretty bad.  Even if he turns it around and plays considerably better, he's only signed for one more year.  If he plays well, he'll cost more despite the fact that he'd still likely project as a below average goalie and if he performs poorly then the Flames would have given up assets for a poor one year rental.  He's not exactly cheap for a reclamation project at 4.15 million.

Jaroslav Halak


The Islanders are looking to dump Halak's salary and the Flames would probably be able to get back additional assets back in a  trade.  He's been a well-traveled starter in the league and is used to coming into a new situation.  He's only under contract for two more years and would set the table for the team to turn the job over to Jon Gillies or Mason McDonald depending on which one looks more the part of starter.


4.5 million is a lot to take on for a goalie that's coming off of a down year.  At 31, he's only likely to get worse.  With the Islanders looking to dump salary, it's unlikely that the team would be able to pass off a bad contract to balance things out.  He's another goalie that lost his starting job meaning Calgary would be picking up somebody's scraps - something that might not sit well with fans.

Darcy Kuemper



At 26, he's the youngest person on the list after Pickard.  He still has some slight room to develop.  The Flames have a rapport established with the Wild and he may be easy to acquire.  As a restricted free agent, he'll likely be pretty cheap and the Flames would be able to name their own terms.


He's barely better than an average backup.  The team would either have to view him as quite the reclamation project or be ready to tank if they roll with a guy like him and Ortio as the backup.  He has less than a 33 percent chance of being an average goalie, something that's quite poor.  The team would get nothing in return for acquiring him as Minnesota can just cut bait if they really want to get rid of him that badly.