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Calgary Flames

Flames Back-up Options – Martin Biron



The need for a quality back-up has been an issue for the Flames since Turek took his ball and went home. Darryl Sutter has cycled through a number of replacements with limited success since taking the reigns and this year the team finds itself in the same situation. Curtis McElhinney is currently 71st in the league in terms of ES SV%. That’s the single worst 5on5 save rate of any goalie that has appeared in 10 games this year.

I was a defender of the kid in the off-season, if only because I argued we hadn't seen enough of him to make a decision one way or the other. To some degree, that's still true given his still small body of work at this level. That said, he's repeatedly failed to put up results that give us any positive indications that he is, in fact, an NHL caliber goaltender. He's also looked rather shaky to my eye his last couple of starts, so it's not just numbers that are indicting his performance at this point.

Before we go further, it should be noted that the Flames are notoriously thin when it comes to trade pieces (aside from defensemen that is) and the first order of business in town should be firming up the forward position. In addition, with Kipper healthy and rolling along, there's no real impetus to improve back-up situation right now.

That said, I’d say that Martin Biron has become the perfect Flames back-up target. He’s been bumped down the NYI depth chart by the resurrection of Rick Dipietro and his contract is absolutely perfect (1.4M this season). In addition, he’ll be cheap because his results have been awful this year. So awful that they are deceptive. His overall SV% is a paltry .900…however his ES SV% according to is .926 – better than Jonas Hiller or Carey Price and just .04 off the pace set by Kipper himself. Where his numbers get hammered down is the PK – .788 SV%. That’s well below the league mean and, considering the fact that special teams SV% rates tend to bounce around like superballs, probably not indicative of his actual ability. Biron was a .915 and .918 goaltender for the Flyers the last couple of seasons and has a career SV% of .911. He’s a legit NHL goalie.

If Calgary wants a Kipper insurance policy, Biron is probably the way to go. He's the third man out in New York, has numbers that will suppress demand for his services (thereby lowering the price to acquire), has good enough underlying stats to assure us he hasn't fallen off a cliff, a decent resume and a really favorable contract.

by Kent Wilson