The Calgary Flames went through a plethora of changes this offseason, but one position that didn’t change much was goaltending. The only change was AHL backup goalie Adam Werner heading to the SHL, and Oscar Dansk coming over from the KHL.
Since that was the only move, the Flames’ primary goaltending depth chart remains:
|Starting Goaltender||Jacob Markstrom|
|Backup Goaltender||Dan Vladar|
|AHL Starting Goaltender||Dustin Wolf|
A look at goaltending around the NHL
There was quite a bit of action around the league in the summer, as goaltenders exchanged musical chairs. Names like Darcy Kuemper, Cam Talbot, Jack Campbell, Alexandar Georgiev, and Matt Murray were among the names moved, along with many others.
Goaltending is commonly referred to as voodoo, as the position is extremely hard to project. Look at Phillipp Grubauer, who went from being a Vezina candidate with the Avalanche in 2020–21, to quite literally the worst goaltender of 2021–22. As someone who had Grubauer in fantasy last year, it was not fun.
On the flip side, you have the likes of Jordan Binnington, who went from a fourth string goalie to backstopping the Blues to a Stanley Cup in a single season back in 2018–19.
With that it mind, let’s look at the goaltending rankings around the league, and where the Flames stack up.
#1A: New York Rangers
It is hard to distinguish between the Rangers and Lightning for best goaltending. Shesterkin is coming off one of the best goaltending seasons we’ve ever made in the modern era. Some regression should be expected, but he should still be a top goalie for years to come. Halak as a backup is more than fine when you’ve got Shesterkin ahead of him.
#1B: Tampa Bay Lightning
What more can you say about Andrei Vasilevskiy, who somehow only has one Vezina trophy win in his career. An absolute stud, it is so hard to pick between him and Shesterkin. I’ve given the 1A slot to the Rangers just because I like Halak a bit more than Elliott, but it is so close you can’t really decide.
#3: New York Islanders
Both New York teams find themselves in the top three when it comes to goaltending. Sorokin came onto the scene last year, and projects to continue upwards. Semyon Varlamov is a perfectly capable 1B, and gives the Islanders the edge up over the next range of rankings here.
#4: Calgary Flames
Tandem: Jacob Markstrom, Dan Vladar
The Flames find themselves in fourth place in these rankings, as Calgary edges out Nashville due to their backup being a tad stronger. While Markstrom’s playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers was less than enjoyable, he was still a Vezina finalist last year. With a bitter taste in his mouth, coupled with an improved Calgary defence, that shouldn’t change much. Vladar continues to improve and should see a few more games this season.
#5: Nashville Predators
Saros has become a phenom for the Predators, and was a major reason for them making the playoffs last year. He should continue to have elite production, but signing Lankinen was odd, considering they had Connor Ingram in the ranks already. Lankinen ranked second last in terms of goals saved above expected last year—only ahead of Philipp Grubauer.
#6: Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes should probably rank higher on this last, as Andersen is on par with Saros and Markstrom, while Raanta edges out Lankinen and Vladar. But, due to injury concerns for both Andersen and Raanta, they drop a few spots.
#7: Florida Panthers
Bobrovsky is a tough one, because he seems to have one good season followed by one bad season. Considering he had a really good season last year… fingers are crossed for the Panthers. Newly extended Spencer Knight sits in the ranks and should get more games as Florida trends towards a split tandem.
#8: Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks would rank higher if they had a backup goalie, but both Delia and Martin is unproven at the NHL level. Thatcher Demko is an absolute stud, and is among one of the best goalies in the NHL. If Vancouver put a better defence in front of him, look out!
#9: Winnipeg Jets
It is so hard to rank Hellebuyck this low, as him alone could easily jump the Jets three or four positions. But, Rittich isn’t the same goalie he used to be, and hasn’t contributed positively since leaving the Flames.
#10: Boston Bruins
The Bruins have a unique tandem, with Swayman continuing to improve year after year. Neither goaltender is considered to be a true elite number one goalie, but both form a very solid tandem.
#11: Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins have a strong example of a good-not-great starting goalie, and a good-not-great backup goalie. Jarry has a very good season in 2021–22, and should remain so in front of a good Penguins team with a new-look defence.
#12: Dallas Stars
Seeing the name Oettinger gives me major flashbacks, but there’s no way he can sustain the play he did in the first round of the 2022 playoffs, right? Wedgewood is a perfectly capable backup, and if Oettinger even hits 75% of his playoff form, the Stars have a very solid tandem.
#13: Edmonton Oilers
Tandem: Jack Campbell (new), Stuart Skinner
Had the Oilers signed Darcy Kuemper, they’d be much higher. Campbell is likely an upgrade over Mike Smith, but I’m extremely curious to see how he fares without the Leafs defence. Giving him a five-year, $25M contract is certainly… a choice. Skinner looks like a real solid young goalie and helps to project them above the next team.
#14: Washington Capitals
Tandem: Darcy Kuemper (new), Charlie Lindgren (new)
The Capitals completely revamped their goaltending, bringing in Kuemper after his Stanley Cup victory with the Avalanche. As we saw with Grubauer last season, the Avalanche defence can boost a goalie, but Kuemper was always a solid goalie. Lindgren drops them down the rankings a bit, due to him being unproven.
#15: Ottawa Senators
Tandem: Cam Talbot (new), Anton Forsberg
The Ottawa Senators improved their team significantly in the offseason, including acquiring Cam Talbot for Filip Gustavsson. Together with Forsberg, the Senators will have a solid tandem, but not as good as other Eastern tandems like the Islanders or Bruins.
#16: Minnesota Wild
Tandem: Marc-Andre Fleury, Filip Gustavsson (new)
Almost surprisingly, the Wild re-signed Fleury, which led to the dealing of Talbot for Gustavsson. Gustavsson won’t be as good as Talbot this year, but it was a very smart move to grab a young goalie with huge upside. Fleury can be hit or miss at times, but was very solid in his limited amount of games last year with the Wild.
#17: Colorado Avalanche
Tandem: Alexandar Georgiev (new), Pavel Francouz
This is the one tandem that I really don’t know where to place. Georgiev is unproven as a starter, but is highly regarded in NHL circles. Francouz is a very good backup, but struggles with injuries. I could see this tandem being anywhere on this list, although Colorado’s defence should help boost them higher instead of dropping them lower.
#18: Los Angeles Kings
Tandem: Jonathan Quick, Cal Petersen
Jonathan Quick regained his form last season, while Petersen took a step back. There are some question marks with this tandem, but it is hard to bet against Quick when he is on his game.
#19: Detroit Red Wings
Husso had a very solid season in 2021–22, stealing the reigns from Binnington for extended periods of time. Nedeljkovic certainly didn’t have a strong 2021–22, but could bounce back to his Hurricanes form with a starter in front of him. This tandem is very boom or bust, but is certainly an improvement over last season.
#20: Anaheim Ducks
Once regarded as one of the best goalies in the league, Gibson has fallen over recent years, all while the Ducks defence depleted. Stolarz continues to be a very underrated backup around the league, and helps boost this tandem a bit.
#21: San Jose Sharks
Tandem: James Reimer, Kappo Kahkonen
Reimer was incredibly solid on a Sharks team that didn’t exactly sprout defence. Coupled with a young Kahkonen, and the Sharks have a decent tandem.
#22: Toronto Maple Leafs
Tandem: Matt Murray (new), Ilya Samsonov (new)
Similar to Colorado’s tandem, the Leafs’ goaltending pair could fall anywhere on this list. Acquiring Murray is extremely risky given his last few seasons, but he does have two Stanley Cups. Taking a shot on Samsonov could work out well.
#23: St. Louis Blues
Tandem: Jordan Binnington, Thomas Greiss (new)
The Blues would have been much higher had they kept Husso. But, losing him and replacing him with Greiss is a downgrade and a half. Binnington has trended downwards over the last few seasons and this tandem could be the Blues’ downfall this season.
#24: New Jersey Devils
The Devils went through so many goalies last season, and are hoping for a healthier tandem this season. Vanecek went through highs and lows last year, but it worth taking a shot on. And Blackwood can’t possibly have another season as bad as 2021–22. Jonathan Bernier’s status remains a question, but he could take one of the two goalie spots if he is healthy.
#25: Columbus Blue Jackets
Merzlikins projects to be a solid goalie based on his play over the past few seasons, but his play did take a bit of a toll with starting minutes. Korpisalo is certainly… a goaltender, and brings down this tandem a bit. Exchanging Korpisalo for Tarasov could upgrade the Blue Jackets down the line.
#26: Philadelphia Flyers
Once thought of as the next goalie great, Hart has put together two incredibly average seasons. Coupled with Sandstrom being unproven and the Flyers’ defence, I wouldn’t expect much from this tandem.
#27: Vegas Golden Knights
Another tandem that could find themselves anywhere on this list. Thompson was very good in a limited sample size last year, while Hill has had good flashes in the past. However, Thompson and Hill have career-highs in games played of 19 and 25 respectively. Neither has even gotten to the point of being a 1B yet, so there is major risk.
#28: Seattle Kraken
Tandem: Philipp Grubauer, Martin Jones (new)
Grubauer can’t be as bad as he was last year, right? If he is, you can go ahead and put him down with the likes of Arizona and Chicago, but some positive regression must be in his favour. Jones isn’t the goalie he was once thought to be, but this tandem just has to be better than they were last year.
#29: Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres are taking a shot on Comrie, who has put up real solid numbers as a backup goalie. Anderson is a great veteran for a young Sabres team but isn’t the goalie he used to be. This tandem could pay off alright if Comrie hits, but there is a lot of risk here. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is a wild card.
#30: Montreal Canadiens
Tandem: Jake Allen, Sam Montembault
Jake Allen is still a useful goalie, but Montembault struggled hard last year. This is the best of the three Bedard candidates, so there’s that! Losing Carey Price for the season is going to sting for 82 straight games.
#31: Chicago Blackhawks
Mrazek could still be a… goaltender, but Stalock hasn’t been NHL calibre in quite some time. This tandem is nowhere close to being anywhere close to playoff calibre and has them perfectly pointed at drawing for the first overall pick.
#32: Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes, like the Blackhawks, will be bottom of the barrel when it comes to goaltending. Vejmelka was among the league’s worst goalies last year, but what else can you expect from the Coyotes, I guess. Gillies looks like the candidate to take the backup spot. Once thought to be the goalie of the future for the Flames, Gillies is now barely an NHL calibre goaltender.
The Flames goaltending has risen to the top
The Flames find themselves among the leagues tops when it comes to goaltending. It is certainly a point of strength for the Flames, and I ranked them fourth overall. I could realistically see them anywhere between third and sixth in the goalie rankings this year.
With these rankings, the Flames find themselves as the top goaltending team in the West, with the Nashville Predators right behind them. The Metro division is the strongest goaltending division by far, with the Rangers, Islanders, Penguins, and Capitals all boasting strong tandems.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire