Last year, the Calgary Flames had bad goaltending. How bad, you may ask? Well, they were the worst team in the entire National Hockey League in terms of even strength save percentage by over a third of a percentage point.
That’s pretty bad.
So it’s probably not shocking that Flames General Manager Brad Treliving went shopping for new goalies this offseason. After a busy summer attempting to upgrade his goalies, the big question is “did he?” In an effort to judge Treliving’s summer moves in context, here’s how Calgary’s goalkeepers stack up relative to the other six teams in the Pacific Division.
GOALIE CAP HITS
Here’s a quick rundown of how much cap space each Pacific Division team has divvied out for their projected goaltenders:
- $7.55 million – Vancouver: Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom
- $6.72 million – Arizona: Mike Smith and Louis Domingue
- $6.70 million – Los Angeles: Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff
- $6.45 million – Anaheim: Jonathan Bernier and John Gibson
- $4.97 million – Edmonton: Cam Talbot and Jonas Gustavsson
- $4.20 million – Calgary: Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson
- $3.60 million – San Jose: Martin Jones and Troy Groesnick
Well, considering the Flames spent $8.3 million on Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller for some spectacularly mediocre goaltending – more than any other Pacific team – they sure seemed to have found some value.
But has their goaltending gotten better relative to the rest of the pack?
RECENT GOALIE PERFORMANCE
My method is simple: go to NHL.com and check out how many even strength shots a goalie faced over the past three seasons and what their save percentage was.
|.923 on 3,784 shots
.923 on 1,435 shots
|.922 on 1,056 shots
.921 on 3,788 shots
|.928 on 2,400 shots
.923 on 2,042 shots
|.917 on 1,225 shots
.927 on 2,713 shots
|LOS ANGELES||Jonathan Quick
|.927 on 3,958 shots
.916 on 789 shots
|SAN JOSE||Martin Jones
|.928 on 2,068 shots
.948 on 58 shots
|.907 on 1,135 shots
.921 on 3,886 shots
Given their performance over the past three seasons, can we approximate their expected performance over this season? Somewhat.
I’m projecting team-by-team save percentage using a fairly simplistic formula based on a few key assumptions:
- Every goalie will save roughly the same proportion of even strength shots that they have over the past three years. (For Troy Groesnick, I’m presuming an even strength save percentage of .920 to correct for his low shots against to date.)
- Every team will allow the same number of even strength shots as they did last season.
- Starters will face 75% of shots, back-ups will face 25% (except in Arizona, where there’s a 50/50 split).
That’s pretty good. Presuming that everybody plays as they have in recent history, the Flames have set themselves up really, really well relative to the rest of the division. In a few markets (Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver) there’s a strong starter and a pretty weak backup. In Calgary, there does not appear to be that problem, and consistency in performance between the two goalies could really help the Flames find some consistency in all areas of their on-ice performance this coming season.
SUM IT UP
Treliving somehow made his goaltending tandem much, much cheaper and much, much better than it was last season, and also managed to make his team (on paper) that much more competitive.