The Calgary Flames have seen a lot of turnover in goal the past few months. Jacob Markstrom, the team’s NHL starter, is one year into his six-year contract, but at almost every other level there will be new faces tending the goal.
It’s not decided just yet where everyone will be playing, but this is what you can expect once the season starts.
Additions and subtractions
Vladar was added via trade with the Boston Bruins where the Flames sent a third-round pick back, Werner was a free agent signing, formerly of the Colorado Avalanche, and Sergeev was drafted in the seventh round of the 2021 NHL draft.
Of course, Rittich was traded at last year’s trade deadline to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a third-round pick. He has signed a contract with the Nashville Predators this season. Domingue’s contract expired at the end of last season and he does not currently have a contract with a team. Zagidulin has opted to return to Russia this season.
Those still in the organization are Markstrom, Dustin Wolf, Tyler Parsons, and Daniil Chechelev.
We know that Markstrom will be the NHL starter. However, outside of this, we don’t know very much at all. We broke down the race between Vladar and Werner for the backup role, and one of them will surely be the backup come opening night. This will depend on how they perform in training camp and the preseason, and even then, it’s likely we’ll see both players get into NHL games this coming season.
It does seem like Vladar has the inside track to the be backup, so if we assume he does secure that role it will be Markstrom and Vladar for the Flames.
Werner is neck and neck with Vladar but we’re predicting he’ll just lose out on the backup job, it only makes sense that he’ll be in Stockton as one of the AHL goalies. That being said, this is where things get a little more complicated.
Wolf is, by all accounts, the Flames’ goalie of the future. He wasn’t a high draft pick but has dominated the WHL in a way very few have, and he also had a great stint in the AHL last season prior to the WHL season starting. In his first AHL start, he was absolutely horrendous, giving up five goals on six shots against the Toronto Marlies. However, he bucked the first professional game jitters really quickly and put up an absolutely stellar pair of games just a few days later. Here are Wolf’s games in the AHL last year:
His first game was awful, but the next two were extremely promising. Vladar might have something to say about it, but as the goalie who is next in line to take over the starter’s net after Markstrom, Wolf will play in the AHL next season, no doubt about it.
That basically solves the AHL crease then, right? Wrong.
While the easy answer is a tandem of Werner and Wolf in the A, another goalie will be doing his absolute best to disrupt that pretty plan: Parsons.
Parsons was once in the boat Wolf is now, the Flames’ goalie of the future. Unfortunately, due to injuries, both physical and mental, Parsons has never turned into the pro goalie he was expected to following incredible performances for Team USA at the World Juniors and the London Knights in the Memorial Cup.
The Flames have retained Parsons though, and if there is anything left to be salvaged of his professional career, it’s important that the Flames see what he can do at the AHL level, not the ECHL. Thus the complexity of this decision.
It’s unfortunate, but all signs point to Parsons starting the season in the ECHL. In fact, throughout his career, Parsons has struggled to find success at the AHL level and has bounced between Stockton and Kansas City in the ECHL. Here are his career stats in both leagues:
|2017–18||Kansas City Mavericks||ECHL||28||3.16||0.902||1||12-12-2|
|2019–20||Kansas City Mavericks||ECHL||25||3.03||0.911||1||11-9-2|
|Total AHL||Stockton Heat||AHL||28||3.90||0.888||0||10-13-1|
|Total ECHL||Kansas City Mavericks||ECHL||53||3.10||0.907||2||23-21-3|
Parsons is only one year younger than Werner and judging on past performance is a worse prospect than Werner at this point. If Parsons quickly shows he’s too good for the ECHL, he will get the chance to play in the AHL, that much we can safely assume. But it will be up to him to really prove that he means business, otherwise his spot on the depth chart will continue to fall and it’s very unlikely he remains on an NHL team next season.
If Parsons does push hard for an AHL spot and Wolf struggles, it’s possible that the two will swap spots. This is an unlikely scenario though given how well Wolf has played in the AHL and how poorly Parsons has the past few years.
To complete the ECHL tandem, the Flames don’t have anyone signed just yet. It’s a deep depth role so the Mavericks’ backup role will likely be a player signed just to a minor league deal, but depending on how things go the Flames might need to add one or two of these players to fill the roster out and insulate against injuries. It’s not something high on Brad Treliving’s list, but it does need to be done prior to the ECHL season starting.
Two goalies are not going to be playing in the Flames’ system this coming season. Sergeev, who most recently played for the Shreveport Mudbugs in the NAHL, will be taking his talents to the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. He was selected fourth overall in the 2021 USHL draft.
The only unknown—not even just for goalies but for Flames prospects in general—is Chechelev. He’s currently a free agent and hasn’t signed with any team yet. We can fairly certainly say he won’t be in North America though, and will likely sign a deal with a KHL team.
Wrapping it up
To summarize, this is where the Flames goalies will likely play next season:
NHL: Markstrom, Vladar/Werner
AHL: Werner/Vladar, Wolf/Parsons
ECHL: Parsons/Wolf, TBD
There are still a couple holes to fill, but for the most part things are decided in the crease. The one thing to keep an eye on is the AHL where there are three players vying for a spot: Werner, Wolf, and Parsons. This is going to be the matchup to watch and one that could dictate the future of the Flames crease.