After signing a two-year deal Saturday, Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich is now ready to prove to Flames’ fans that he is ready to take over the full-time duties in net this year. While he more than doubled his appearances last season, the 26-year-old lost his job to Mike Smith in the playoffs as Rittich faded in the stretch run.
Rittich started the season strong last season. Before the all-star break, he had a 19-4 record in 30 games, posting a 2.47 GAA and a .918 save percentage, but saw those numbers fall off after the all-star break. Rittich instead appeared in just 15 games after the break as it looked as if he wore down, putting up a 2.85 GAA and a .898 save percentage. Rittich didn’t appear in any of the team’s playoff games after that.
The goaltender, however, has changed his workout regimen this summer with the intention of being able to endure the long season and starting even more games this season than the 45 he played in last season, according to Sportsnet’s Eric Francis. Rittich no longer has Smith to lean back on. Calgary instead brought in veteran Cam Talbot, who has struggled significantly over the past two years. The Flames need Rittich now more than ever.
“I would like to play more than last year, but it’s up to how I play,” said Rittich. “I’m working really hard so I think I can play more than 60 games.”
- The Athletic’s Darren Haynes (subscription required) writes now that Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett, who recently signed a two-year deal, could get an increase in minutes on the ice this year. The 23-year-old averaged just 13:17 of ATOI on the left wing, but with so many left wingers on the roster, someone may have to move over to the right side. Haynes writes that Bennett might be the perfect player who might even be able to crack the top-six this year and perhaps have the breakout season that everyone has been waiting for since Calgary selected Bennett with the fourth overall pick in 2014.
- Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal writes that the chances that Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi returning to Edmonton is starting to improve. Despite the restricted free agent’s request to be traded away from Edmonton in hopes of a fresh start, a deal hasn’t happened as it’s believed that Ken Holland hasn’t received a suitable offer for Puljujarvi and with training camps already underway in Europe, his chances of returning there is lessening by the day. He writes the only place Puljujarvi can go to get decent pay at this point is with the Oilers. Still just 21 years old, Puljujarvi must show more offense no matter where he plays after finishing with just four goals in 46 games.
- Leavins also added that he wouldn’t be surprised if recent signee Josh Archibald should play a big role throughout the Oilers lineup as new head coach Dave Tippett is quite familiar with him. Tippett, a resident of Arizona, spent quite a bit of time watching Archibald last season when he was with the Coyotes and could be an instant favorite of the coach and could see playing time up and down the lineup next season. Archibald finished with 12 goals and 22 points in 68 games, but also finished with 161 hits.