Brian Elliott, Cam Talbot, Flames History, Hockey History, Jacob Markstrom, Jonas Hiller

Flames’ 5 Best Goalies Over the Past Decade

Ever since Miikka Kiprusoff retired, the Calgary Flames have gone through a carousel in the crease. That has changed in recent years thanks to the signing of Jacob Markstrom, but prior to him signing during the 2020 offseason, this organization struggled to find a reliable number-one netminder.

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Due to the inconsistencies of their goaltenders over the past decade, Flames fans often grew frustrated with them, as they were often an Achilles heel on some otherwise strong teams. That said, while they may not have been top-tier starters like others in the league, they have had some goalies that were able to put together some strong seasons from a statistical standpoint. Here are the five best goalies they have had over the past 10 years.

Jacob Markstrom

As already mentioned, Markstrom has stabilized what was a weakness for this Flames team in the past. Though he struggled last season, the 33-year-old has proven how great he can be since arriving in Calgary. The 2021-22 season was a testament to that, as he recorded a 2.22 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .922 save percentage (SV%) in 63 appearances, numbers that were good enough to have him finish as a Vezina Trophy finalist.

Jacob Markstrom Calgary Flames
Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While Markstrom has been inconsistent through his three seasons as a Flame, he has also stolen plenty of games, and given the team a reliable option who they can put between the pipes night in and night out. He appeared in 43 of the Flames’ 56 games in 2020-21, 63 in 2021-22, and 59 this past season. Being that durable holds plenty of value in itself.

Cam Talbot

Though his time in Calgary was short-lived, Cam Talbot was very strong for the Flames in his lone season with the organization. Used in more of a backup role upon arrival, the 36-year-old compiled a 2.63 GAA along with a .919 SV% in 26 appearances. Those numbers were much more reliable than his goaltending partner David Rittich, who had a 2.97 GAA paired with a .907 SV% in 48 games.

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Due to Talbot’s much better numbers, he wound up being used as the Flames’ starting goaltender in the playoffs, and continued to impress. In 10 playoff appearances that year, he had a 2.24 GAA and a .924 SV%, numbers that gave his team a chance to win each and every game. He wound up signing with the Minnesota Wild later that year due to the Flames choosing to sign Markstrom, but would have been welcomed back with open arms by the Calgary fan base.

Brian Elliott

This one is a little more controversial, and goes to show how weak the goaltending position was for the Flames for many years after Kiprusoff retired. That said, Brian Elliott played reasonably well in his lone season with the Flames, at least as far as the regular season is concerned. In 49 games during the 2016-17 campaign, he had a solid 2.55 GAA and a .910 SV%.

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Unfortunately for Elliott, his struggles in the playoffs that year put a sour taste in the mouths of Flames fans. The 38-year-old started all four games in what wound up being a sweep in favour of the Anaheim Ducks, during which time he had a ghastly 3.88 GAA and a .880 SV%. As bad as that was, however, those four games shouldn’t take away from the fact he had a solid regular season in Calgary.

Jonas Hiller

Before we get to the good, it is impossible to look over the bad. In Jonas Hiller’s second and final season with the Flames, he had one of the worst statistical seasons imaginable as a goaltender, recording a 3.51 GAA and a .879 SV% in 26 appearances. It was such a lousy showing that it ended up being the final NHL season for a goalie who was thought of as a solid number-one for several seasons. It also took away from what was a solid first year in Calgary.

The Flames signed Hiller as a free agent to a two-year, $9 million contract ahead of the 2014-15 campaign. That very next season, he suited up for 52 games and posted numbers that aligned very similarly to the rest of his career with a 2.36 GAA and a .918 SV%. Whatever happened the next season is what has defined his legacy in Calgary, but the fact of the matter is, he was quite solid in year one.

Karri Ramo

During his three seasons with the Flames from 2013-2016, Karri Ramo was quite consistent. He posted GAAs of 2.65, 2.60, and 2.63 during those three years, and SV%s of .911, .912, and .909. He was never a top-tier goaltender throughout the NHL but gave the Flames enough to win on more nights than not.

The 2015-16 season wound up being Ramo’s last in the NHL, which came as a surprise to some given that he was solid throughout his tenure as a Flame. While never outstanding, he did what was asked of him, and for that reason rounds out this list as one of the organization’s top five goaltenders over the past 10 seasons.

Flames May Have Future Kiprusoff in the Making

Though it is far too soon to put this much pressure on him, the Flames goaltending position may soon be better off than it has been since the Miikka Kiprusoff days thanks to Dustin Wolf. The 22-year-old is arguably the best goaltending prospect in the world, and will likely force his way onto the Flames’ roster this upcoming season. After winning back-to-back Goalie of the Year awards in the American Hockey League (AHL), he appears destined for stardom. If he does indeed reach the heights many are predicting, the Flames should be very strong between the pipes for years to come.

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