The Calgary Flames have avoided arbitration with another restricted free agent, this time signing David Rittich to a one-year $800K contract. Rittich was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 28th, but has settled on a one-way contract with the Flames that could potentially take him to Group VI unrestricted free agent status next summer. The 25-year old goaltender is heading into his third professional season in North America, and would need to play in at least 13 games (for 30 minutes or more) to become ineligible for Group VI status.
There’s no guarantee Rittich gets that many games, as he’ll be battling Jon Gillies for the right to backup starter Mike Smith. Still, he should have an inside track in that fight given Gillies’ waiver-exempt status and two-way contract. If Rittich does get the NHL backup role, he’ll be trying to improve on the .904 save percentage he posted last season and show that he belongs in this league for the next chunk of his career. The undrafted goaltender signed with the Flames out of the Czech Republic in 2016, but hasn’t found much consistency at the NHL or AHL levels.
The Flames still have three restricted free agents to sign, but are down to just Garnet Hathaway as an arbitration-eligible player. His hearing is scheduled for Monday July 30th, after which the team can focus on extending Noah Hanifin. Getting Rittich, Hathaway, Brett Kulak and Mark Jankowski out of the way has taken a good chunk of the offseason, but the team still has plenty of time to find common ground on a long-term deal with Hanifin.