David Rittich: Goaltender
Regular Season: 45 GP, 27-9-5, 2.61 GAA, .911 Save%
MarkParkinson14 = (A) Rittich gave the Flames all he had in 2018-19 and turned a few heads in the process. His preseason was nothing to write home about and with an aging Mike Smith as Calgary’s other option people were worried, but Rittich silenced his critics early on. The Flames keeper lead the team in wins, Save% , GAA, saves and total minutes. The downfall with Rittich was he hit a minor snag in early February and only started 11 more games over the final 2 1⁄2 months of the season. To add insult to injury Rittich never even saw the ice during the NHL Playoffs as Calgary rode Mike Smith’s hot hand into into their round one series with the Avalanche. Overall you have to consider Rittich’s season a success and there’s no reason the Flames shouldn’t look to him to be their true #1 in the future.
Madeline Campbell = (A) I think my biggest question with Rittich coming into this season—particularly as it was also Mike Smith’s last year on his contract before likely hitting free agency—was whether he could establish himself as a solid NHL goaltender after playing a distinct backup role the previous season. And he did it! This season the Flames ran with just about as close to a true tandem as you can get, and Rittich was very solid in that new role. You don’t need either guy in your tandem to be elite (that’s why it’s a tandem and not Andrei Vasilevskiy or Fredrik Andersen getting 65 starts), you just need them to be good for their share of the starts, and Rittich was definitely able to do that. Smith may or may not be back next season, but it’s become increasingly clear that it’s Rittich’s net. Even if they continue rolling with a tandem, he seems to be their guy. And if they decide they want to give him an increased role, still, next season, I feel confident about what he’ll be able to do.