Calgary Flames

Exploring the reasoning behind the Calgary Flames acquiring Michael McNiven

In what came as a surprise move Wednesday March 2, 2022, the Calgary Flames acquired goaltender Michael McNiven from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for future considerations.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes, just wanted to say a quick goodbye Future Considerations, you were my favorite player.

Now looking at the move at a 10,000 foot view, it spurred a lot of discourse among the Flames commnity. Was this a precursor to a bigger move? Is someone injured? Are the Flames trading Dustin Wolf?

In fact, it was most likely none of these things and in summary the Flames just acquired a 24-year-old depth goaltender for free. 

Here’s what it could mean:

McNiven the goaltender

McNiven was an undrafted free agent signed by the Canadiens in 2015 after playing for Owen Sound during his junior career. He has bounced around in the AHL and ECHL since, and was able to play in one NHL game this season.

His numbers are not flashy at all, in fact this year they are down-right terrible. His AHL record sits at 4–4–1 with a 4.04 GAA and a 0.869 SV%. His single NHL game appearance was even worse, so much so that we won’t state the numbers here.

That being said, he is only 24 years of age and had some decent seasons in the AHL and ECHL where there is potential for enough minor league upside.

In Montreal, he was behind a long, long list of goaltenders that made it virtually impossible for him to even consistently play AHL hockey. It’s early yet, but this trade is already the best move for his career.

Flames goaltending fit

Calgary’s goaltending situation has quickly turned from an area much maligned, to one of the Flames’ greatest strengths. Jacob Markstrom and Daniel Vladar hold the crease in the NHL, while Dustin Wolf and Adam Werner share duties in Stockton. Add in the likes of Daniil Chechelev, Arsenii Sergeev, Andrew Shortridge, and even for the fun of it, Tyler Parsons, the team has a number of options. 

So why add McNiven? Well mainly for two reasons. One being that Adam Werner is a group six UFA this offseason and may find work elsewhere. It would be ideal for the organization to have an AHL experienced back-up to play with Wolf, while Sergeev and Chechelev could play in Kansas City. 

Secondly, and most importantly, the Stockton Heat are having just as impressive of a season as the Flames. They are also looking to make a huge postseason push, and the Flames management most likely wanted to add in an additional goaltender in case of injury or just to add to the depth. 

It’s equally as valuable for the prospects and rest of the AHL team to have success in the playoffs as it is to give them NHL experience, the acquisition of McNiven could help with that.

Zero risk move

Future considerations could turn out to be a seventh-round pick, or just absolutely nothing at the end of the day. In this case, it’s most likely the latter.

So essentially, the Flames—more specifically the Heat—just added a 24-year-old goaltender with potential for AHL upside to their organizational depth for absolutely nothing.

No issues here. 

Photo credit: Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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