David Hutchison | Apr 3, 2019 | 0
New deal for David Rittich locks up all existing goaltenders in Calgary system
The Calgary Flames still have three restricted free agents that need deals heading into the 2018-19 NHL season – and given that Noah Hanifin is one of them, that’s no small task for the management team to get done.
With the announcement on Thursday morning that David Rittich has agreed to a one-year, one-way deal with the NHL club, though, their goaltending situation is all wrapped up for now.
Rittich inked a deal worth $800,000 for the upcoming campaign, earning both a raise and some financial security in the process. Not only did he get a handsome bump from the $725,000 per season salary that he earned at the NHL level in each of the last two seasons, but he graduated from two-way deals to the coveted one-way promise – meaning, most notably for him, that he’ll earn the same amount no matter where he’s playing next year.
For Rittich, that could be key. He and prospect Jon Gillies are both up for the backup position behind Mike Smith for the upcoming season, although Gillies had slightly more favorable numbers and is expected to be the front-runner heading into training camp.
Born in Jihlava, Czech Republic, the 25-year-old Rittich made his way to North America at the start of the 2016-17 season. although he only appeared in one NHL game, recording a .900 save percentage in the process, his 31-game stint for the AHL’s Stockton Heat impressed the team; he was good for a .924 unadjusted save percentage in all situations, going 15-11-1 with five shutouts.
Last year, though, he struggled to make the transition to the NHL, and his numbers both in Calgary and Stockton ended up suffering. He was good for an 8-6-3 record and a .904 save percentage with the Flames, which looked better than the .896 that Gillies recorded, but fell to a .889 save percentage at the AHL level.
Of course, he does have two things working in his favor. He’ll cost more for the Flames at the AHL level, since Gillies has a two-way deal for next season, and he’s also no longer waiver-exempt – meaning that he’d need to clear waivers to head down to Stockton, while Gillies will not.
Ultimately, the team may wait and see what happens at training camp, but they do still have other options floating around on the market – and both Gillies and Rittich are signed to affordable deals, making them easy to move if necessary. With Tyler Parsons and Mason McDonald both in the system still as well, don’t discount the possibility that Calgary is keeping an eye on what happens with Steve Mason in the coming weeks; although the team does have goaltending depth to spare, they lack much in the way of depth experience. Given the injury struggles that Mike Smith has dealt with in the last few years – and how desperate Calgary will be to return to the postseason – don’t rule out the possibility that the Flames are keeping tabs on what’s happening with the recently-bought out veteran.