He was often heralded as the goaltender of the future by both fans, media and I’m sure even the team. However, the time has come for the Flames organization to move on from Jon Gillies. The former 3rd round pick from 2012 saw his numbers decrease last year in Stockton, albeit on a weaker team than in prior years. While he did end the season on a strong note, the progression that had been hoped for still wasn’t there.
The Flames clearly wanted Gillies to bet on himself during the summer of 2018 by offering to make the second year of his contract into a one-way deal, meaning he’s getting paid the same cap hit at the NHL or AHL level.
Perhaps the Flames had been hoping he’d emerge at least a capable NHL backup and find some cap savings at the position heading into this season. The fact that Calgary went out and brought in Cam Talbot clearly shows they weren’t confident in Gillies at the NHL level yet.
However it isn’t really his lack of development or contact situation alone that should prompt Calgary to move on from him, it’s that they have a strong goaltending prospect pool for the first time in years, maybe even decades.
With the NHL netminding tandem all but set with David Rittich and Cam Talbot, there’s only so much net to go around at the AHL and ECHL levels to ensure other prospects keep developing.
Calgary currently has Tyler Parsons, a 2nd round pick in 2016 and Nick Schneider who both saw time along with Gillies had the AHL level last year and had better numbers.
While the jury is still out on both of them, at 21 years of age, they’re a far safer bet to develop into an NHL goaltender than Gillies who will be turning 26 this season.
Then we can turn to the new arrival Artyom Zagidulin. The Russian netminder had a solid season in the KHL last year, but you’d have to think both Zagidulin and the Flames weren’t intending for him to play in North America just to put him in the ECHL.
The right decision for now seems to be having Parsons and Zagidulin split time in Stockton, while Schneider gets the lion’s share of the starts in Kansas City. As you can tell, that leaves Gillies as the odd man out.
While some may point to the Jordan Binnington situation as a reason to keep Gillies, it is important to realize how unique of a situation that was, which is why it was so notable. For what it’s worth, Binnington also had far superior AHL numbers in previous years too.
Calgary would be wise to try and get any asset possible for Gillies who may still have some interest around the league. It is worth noting that Gillies was a pick from the previous management regime, so there might be less apprehension to trade him.
If the Flames decide they want to keep him, perhaps they could work out a loaner situation with another franchise at the AHL level, but it’s crucial that the younger more promising prospects are getting their reps within the organization.
Gillies was a beacon of hope in a dark period of goaltending for the organization, but that light has faded and the torch has now been passed to other prospects. It’s time to move on, and that may be the best thing for both parties.
Do you think Calgary should move on from Gillies?
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