So before I start I’d like to say that ideally after the upcoming 2018-19 season, should Mike Smith choose to retire, that the Flames would be confident enough in their prospects (David Rittich, Jon Gillies or Tyler Parsons) that they wouldn’t need to make a move in free agency for a goalie.
However, goalies often develop at different paces, so the Flames could very well be looking for a stopgap or even a long term goaltending option come July 1 2019.
Here are three goaltenders that will be UFA’s and will be interesting options:
1. Semyon Varlamov - Colorado Avalanche
Varlamov is a goaltender who has certainly had his ups and downs over the last few years. In 2017-18 he put up a .920 Sv% to with a 24-16-6 record and was a big reason Colorado returned to the playoffs after their abysmal campaign the year before, however his season ended early with an injury so he couldn’t dress for playoffs.
Speaking of 2016-17, Varlamov wasn’t spared from the debauchery of that Avalanche team, putting up an .898 Sv% with a 6-17 record before having season-ending hip injury.
With the Avalanche having acquired Phillip Grubauer from the Washington Capitals this summer, the writing seems to be on the wall for Varlamov’s future with the Avalanche.
Obviously his next contract will still be influenced by how this season plays out, but he could be a relatively cheap option if he becomes the backup this season. Varlamov will only be 30 at the start of 2018-19 and 31 in 2019-20, so he should hopefully have 2-3 good years left in him.
2. Sergei Bobrovsky - Columbus Blue Jackets
Obviously Sergei Bobrovsky is by far the biggest fish in the upcoming UFA goalie market. It’s hard to see him leaving the Blue Jackets, but it could happen, especially if the whole Artemi Panarin saga ends up with him leaving the Jackets.
Bobrovsky has been one of the top five goalies in the league for the last six years and hasn’t really shown any signs of slowing down. One of the downsides of Bobrovsky has been that despite outstanding regular season numbers, he’s been average to below-average in the playoffs thus far in his career.
Like Varlamov, Bobrovsky will be 30 when this next season begins, so he’ll be 31 when the 2019-20 season begins. Goaltenders often start to trend downwards after 30, it might not be a great long-term investmest.
Unlike Varlamov, he’s the unquestioned number one goalie on his current team which should keep his value high for most of the season.
However, there are going to be many teams lining up for his services, and with him already having a cap hit of $7.425M per season, he could be priced out of the Flames range both on term and cap hit. One can dream though right?
3. Calvin Pickard - Toronto Maple Leafs
Pickard is an interesting goaltender in that he had a solid year in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies but couldn’t find his way up to the NHL.
He did dress for 50 games in the 2016-17 season with the Colorado Avalanche, but like Varmalov he was also a victim of that horrendous year, putting up a 15-31-2 record with a .904 Sv%. In the previous two years as a backup with the Avs, he put up sparkling .922 and .932 save percentages respectively.
Pickard may be a good under-the-radar option that could come in at a relatively cheap price. At the same time he’s an unproven goaltender at the NHL level, so it may be wiser to play him as a tandem with perhaps Gillies or Parsons.
Of course a lot can change in a year, so we’ll have to see how things play out. Depending on the Hanifin and Tkachuk extensions, the Flames look to have around $8-10M to play with next summer, so signing a goaltender isn’t out of the question, but personally I hope one of the young goalies is ready to step up instead.
Which Goalie do you think the Flames should look at?
This poll is closed
None (Better Options in House)