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Calgary Flames

The statistics of Brian Elliott and the ramifications for Joni Ortio

12 goalies were analyzed yesterday. The Flames acquired one that wasn't on the list. Here's what it means going forward.



Yesterday Matchsticks and Gasoline went and evaluated 12 different goalies that the Flames might target during free agency or as a trade target. In typical Brad Treliving fashion, he went and acquired one that wasn’t necessarily on anybody’s board. Shortly after the Flames had one of the three targets they were after fall into their lap in Matthew Tkachuk they announced that they had swapped their second round pick (pick number 35) in the 2017 entry draft for Brian Elliott.

The Elliott rumours only started up earlier in the day. The news of a potential Elliott acquisition was originally a little surprising and out in left field, but it eventually picked up enough steam over the course of the day to turn into fruition. If the Flames manage to re-sign Elliott before he hits free agency next year, they will send a third round pick in 2018 to the St. Louis Blues as well.

Some underlying statistics on Elliott were discussed in a previous article by Matt here. Those are strictly the numbers from previous seasons though. What everyone really wants to know going forward is how well he'll do moving forward.

Compared to the already detailed 12

Chances numbers are above…

Marcel Shots Save Percentage Average 31-60 TOI (Backup) Average Top 60 TOI (NHL) Average Top 30 TOI (Starter Worst Backup (Jonas Hiller) Worst Starter (Kari Lehtonen) Best Backup (Andrew Hammond) Best Starter (James Reimer)
0.9205 0.9255 0.928 0.8954 0.909 0.9405 0.9396
Brian Elliott 3272.4 .9282 80.50% 61.57% 50.47% 99.99% 98.46% 8.06% 9.69%
James Reimer 3566.6 .9278 78.37% 57.85% 46.21% 99.99% 98.36% 5.92% 7.27%
Ben Bishop 4390.8 .9274 80.60% 58.42% 45.51% 100.00% 99.08% 4.10% 5.24%
Marc-Andre Fleury 4519.8 .9266 78.63% 55.42% 42.36% 100.00% 98.95% 3.31% 4.29%
Craig Anderson 4327.4 .9258 74.80% 51.12% 38.52% 99.99% 98.39% 2.92% 3.78%
Jhonas Enroth 2974.4 .9252 68.82% 48.49% 38.12% 99.92% 95.61% 5.21% 6.31%
Calvin Pickard 3249.4 .9250 68.86% 47.60% 36.83% 99.94% 96.09% 4.30% 5.29%
Semyon Varlamov 4732.4 .9247 70.89% 45.43% 32.73% 99.99% 98.12% 1.74% 2.33%
Jimmy Howard 3718.7 .9241 66.34% 43.41% 32.29% 99.96% 96.19% 2.69% 3.42%
Chad Johnson 3171.8 .9238 63.95% 42.68% 32.44% 99.90% 94.55% 3.52% 4.34%
Jonathan Bernier 3996 .9234 63.71% 39.91% 28.81% 99.97% 95.96% 1.90% 2.47%
Jaroslav Halak 3706.7 .9232 62.09% 39.15% 28.53% 99.94% 95.04% 2.14% 2.74%
Darcy Kuemper 3274.8 .9207 50.80% 30.14% 21.46% 99.69% 89.67% 1.61% 2.05%
Joni Ortio 2855.8 .9193 44.93% 26.51% 19.00% 99.15% 84.70% 1.66% 2.07%

While the sample sizes are not as high as the were with Bishop, Fleury, or Anderson, Elliott actually had a higher projected five-on-five save percentage over the next three seasons than any of the previous goalies mentioned and it really wasn't all that close. Compared to any of the other netminders, he is the only one on the list that has over a 50 percent chance of being an above average starter once regression is factored in. He's also the only one that had over a 60 percent chance of finishing within the top 60.

Just about the only downside to Elliott is that due to the lack of sample size he has a slightly higher bust chance than the big three on the list. That chance is still really, really small however. There a only one in 1000 chance that he’s worse than Hiller was last year and they’ll be paying him two million less per season. For it to only cost them a second and third rounder is a considerably better price than what the Penguins and Lightning were respectively asking for for their two goalies.

The implications on Ortio

It's pretty easy to see why the Flames felt they had to make the upgrade at goalie and given the cost it made a lot of sense. While Ortio has the benefit of being younger, he simply hasn't capitalized on his chances at the AHL or NHL levels at all and projects as a sub par backup even with the benefits of positive regression at the ages of 25, 26, and 27. Even with Elliott's regression, he still projects to be an above average starter in the league.

If there's one drawback to Elliott, it's that he hasn't played more than 55 games in a season for his career. That would leave 27 games for Ortio over the course of the season, something that he doesn't appear to be suited to handle. If the expected five on five save percentages hold true, Elliott plays 55 games, Ortio plays 27 games, and they each face the same number of shots per game, that would put the team at a .9252 even strength save percentage.

That number is above the league average of .9249, but not by a lot. If Elliott was more of a workhorse and could stretch that to 65 games and leave 17 games to Ortio, that would raise that percentage to .9263. This is where a goalie that was known as more of a workhorse would have come in handy – Ortio is hardly a proven commodity and the less workload he handles, the better chances the team would have.

Effects of a different backup versus Ortio

With Elliott's workload being more of that of a 1A/1B type of goalie rather than a pure starter, the Flames may want to consider a different backup. With only 2.5 million committed to Elliott, they'll have considerably more cap space to work with if they decide to do so. Even if they commit a million and a half to a backup, that would still put them at less cap space for two goalies than they gave Hiller alone last year.

Enroth was one individual mentioned as a potential player for the Flames to acquire off of free agency. Replacing Ortio's paltry .9193 projection with Enroth's .9252 would yield considerable results for the Flames. Instead of the .9252 projection assuming Elliott started 55 games, the number would spike to .9272. Two fewer goals every 100 shots is nothing to sniff at.

Even Johnson's less impressive .9238 would help tremendously. Swapping Elliott for Johnson bumps the projection up to .9267, or one and a half less goals per every 100 shots. Given all of this information, it would probably be beneficial for Calgary to pursue a more established backup with better numbers than Ortio has shown throughout his career.

by Les Mavus