Calgary Flames reportedly ink David Rittich
The Calgary Flames were woefully inept in goal during the 2015-16 season, watching as veteran Jonas Hiller, backup Karri Ramo, rookie Joni Ortio, and ultimately acquired long shot Niklas Backstrom all struggled to keep the puck out of the net over the 82-game season.
Signing a free agent likely won’t fix the problems the Flames have in net – but as both Backstrom and Hiller leave for free agency overseas and Ramo sits as a question mark, the inking of a Czech league goaltender named David Rittich isn’t a bad option to replenish the team’s depth.
Rittich has reportedly inked a deal with the Flames for the upcoming 2015-16 season, joining Czech forward Daniel Pribyl in the team’s system for the new year. The Flames themselves have yet to officially announce the signing, but multiple sources – including the Calgary Herald and Czech website Hokej.cz – have reported that it’s a done deal.
Standing at 6 foot 4, the 23-year-old netminder has plenty of size, although his numbers leave him a bit of a mystery for Flames fans. Hockej.cz writer Adam Bagar had plenty of praise for the netminder, though; he suggested that Rittich’s 48-game campaign with BK Mlada Boleslav was ‘the main driver of a successful team last season’, and earned him an invitation to play for the Czech national team for the first time in his career.
The Flames will still almost certainly need someone to carry the bulk of the load at the NHL level next year.
Jon Gillies remains the team’s goaltender with the highest potential ceiling, and Mason McDonald could certainly find his way into a solid NHL position before long – but the Flames won’t want to rush development with either of them, and both Ortio and Ramo (the only two options left from last year that could remain in Calgary’s system) proved last season that they struggled to be bona fide NHL starters. It’s highly unlikely that Rittich, who played in just his second season in the Czech Republic’s highest tier league last year, will be ready for the role of clear starter, either; he may be better suited to the minor leagues entirely.
Given the praise he received in the Czech Republic, though, it’s good news to see Rittich heading for Calgary – especially with so many years of development left for him to reach his potential ceiling.
For a club with a number of holes in their goaltending depth chart – and a new goaltending development coach on the way in (InGoal Mag has learned Scott Gouthro will be leaving this summer after two years with the team’s AHL club for personal reasons) – this is a smart move.