The Calgary Flames are in search of some help between the pipes, this we know. General manager Brad Treliving has said as much, stating “goaltending is obviously a priority for us,” as the 2015-16 regular season came to a close.
How the Flames go about filling that void in goal could become clearer once the National Hockey League comes to a decision on potential expansion for the 2017-18 season in June, as some teams could look to move a goaltender out for an asset rather than risk losing one in an expansion draft.
Globe & Mail columnist Eric Duhatschek joined Boomer & Warrener as a guest on Sportsnet 960 The Fan Tuesday to talk about the Flames goaltending situation, alluding to the emergence of Matt Murray in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ net as a potential catalyst for Treliving and Co. to explore Marc-Andre Fleury as an option for Calgary.
“At this stage of Marc-Andre Fleury’s career I have a hard time believing Murray is the guy they’re making available,” Duhatschek said. “They’re going to have cap issues going forward, every team does that has high-end guys like [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin that you’re committed to for a long, long period of time.
“I think what you’ll see is that, if they announce the expansion draft in June in Las Vegas, that will be one of players whose names will be out there. People [in Calgary] are gonna have to evaluate… is Marc-Andre Fleury the guy you need to get you to the next point?”
Fleury is coming off a season in which he finished with a 2.29 goals-against average, .921 save percentage, and a 35-17-6 record. A late-season concussion shelved the 31-year-old and paved the way for Murray to finish the season as the No. 1 man in goal for the Penguins. Murray has been oustanding in 11 post-season appearances with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.
“In a perfect world you’d bring in a young guy who can play for you for a long time and grow and mature with your group, but if that guy isn’t available and if you think Jon Gillies can be that guy in a few years down the road, then you just need a transitional guy,” said Duhatschek.
“The acquisition cost for a guy like Fleury… that might just be taking him off your hands, free the money off the books, and it doesn’t cost you a tangible asset off your roster.”
Fleury has three more seasons remaining on his current contract at an annual cap hit of $5.75 million. Gillies, a Flames’ third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, is a potential goaltender of the future in Calgary. The 22-year-old former Providence College standout saw most of his 2015-16 season wiped out by surgery for a lower-body injury.