During the 2019-20 postseason, the Calgary Flames went into the playoffs relying on goalie Cam Talbot as their starting goalie. To his credit, Talbot played quite well during the postseason. Still, he couldn’t carry the team past the Dallas Stars during the playoffs.
Talbot has since left to sign a three-year, $11 million contract with the Minnesota Wild. He’s landed better than most believed he might have and is projected to become the Wild’s starter. Although he wasn’t what the Flames believed they needed to address their goalie situation, he was what the Wild wanted. Good luck to Talbot.
The Flames Picked Up Jacob Markstrom
The Flames eventually went out and found the best person for their job by plucking Vancouver fan and organizational favorite Jacob Markstrom from the Canucks. Personally, at first, I was surprised he left Vancouver; however, in the end the Canucks just didn’t believe they should match the Flames’ offer and that offer was solid.
Thatcher Demko had simply shown too much skill and promise during the Canucks’ postseason run. Perhaps, even Markstrom saw the writing on the wall in Vancouver. Should Demko continue his progress – which seems likely, eventually Markstrom was going to diminish in his status to the team.
Instead, Markstrom moved into the role as the bone fide starter for the Flames. In the end, it might turn out to be a good situation for everyone involved. The Flames believe they got the best goalie available in Markstrom; and, they might be right.
How Good Is the Flames Goalie Duo?
Right now, that gives the Flames probably one of the best one/two punches in the NHL with Markstrom and goalie partner David Rittich, who was himself an NHL All-Star last season. No other NHL team has two 2019-20 All-Stars goalies on their rosters. That fact should give the Flames an advantage during a season that’s compressed and where goalies will play a more-balanced schedule because of so many back-to-backs.
The question the Flames now face is how to employ their one/two punch in Markstrom and Rittich. Although Markstrom seems to regularly play 60 games each season, during this particular 56-game schedule how many times should each goalie appear between the pipes? The Flames have invested $6 million per season over the next six years for Markstrom. The team certainly doesn’t want to burn out their new goalie, but they do want him to be their starter.
Markstrom Is certainly capable of playing lots. He’s a workhorse. However, with the NHL season having hockey almost every other night and lots of back-to-back games, fans have to believe that when you have it All Star tandem such as Markstrom and Rittich, you use both of them to their fullest advantage.
Rittich Is no Slouch as a Goalie Himself and Needs a Good Season
Rittich too is capable of having an outstanding season. He had a great start to the 2019-20 season, and my guess is that he’ll take his share of the games during the 2020-21 season. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that both Flames’ goalies will play more than 20 games this season.
The fact that Rittich is on the last year of his current contract also pushes him to want to play well for the contract after this season and during a time when COVID-19 might not impact the contract numbers as much as they have this season.
Debating the Markstrom Situation
In the video below, Ryan Leslie and Eric Francis discuss the Flames’ goalie situation – especially how many starts Markstrom might make during the upcoming season. There’s no question Markstrom will be the starter. However, It’s more probable that the two will probably work together very well and cover the Flames’ goalie situation quite handily. Markstrom certainly has something to prove after coming from the Canucks. However, given the Flames financial investment in his future, it’s obvious the organization believes that Markstrom is the choice.
It’s going to be an amazing opportunity for the Flames this season. Can their goalie situation carry them far into what might be the most unique NHL season in history? It’s certainly going to be an odd year for watching how NHL teams employ their goalies.
Who will be the starter and who will be the backup when the season ends are questions Flames’ fans probably are interested in discovering. However, in Calgary’s case, as long as one of these two possible goalies rise to the challenge, the team should be in good shape.
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