BUFFALO — Brad Treliving raved about Brian Elliott, the person. The Flames’ general manager loved his new goalie’s character, how hard he practiced, and he’d heard how popular he was among his St. Louis teammates.
“It was hard to find people to say a bad word about him,” said Treliving.
Elliott’s numbers didn’t hurt either. He went 23-8-6 with a .930 save percentage for the Blues last season. He played well in the postseason too.
But the thing Treliving really liked about the 31-year-old he acquired Friday was the contract — a $2.5 million cap hit in 2016-17, with no commitment beyond that.
“Part of the attraction is the flexibility with the contract,” he said.
The question now is whether Treliving is done. Prior to getting Elliott, the Flames had been linked in trade chatter to Marc-Andre Fleury, Ben Bishop and Sergei Bobrovsky. There are pending free agents, too, like James Reimer.
As of right now, Joni Ortio is Calgary’s No. 2. Would Treliving be comfortable going into next season with the 25-year-old as Elliott’s backup?
“I like Joni, I really do,” he said. “We felt it was important to get an experienced goaltender, and then we’ll see how things round out. Joni, like our team, had some peaks and valleys, and a lot more valleys than peaks, but I thought he finished real strong.”
Ortio went 7-9-5 with a .902 save percentage last season. He spent part of it in the AHL after clearing waivers in November. He’s shown potential, but it would be a risk for Treliving, who just hired a new head coach, to go with such an unproven backup.
“We made our goaltending deeper today, where it all goes we’ll see,” he said. “We’ve got some decisions to make as we go forward.”
In other words, the Flames might not be done.
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