The Maple Leafs aren’t done shopping yet.
A few weeks ago, GM Kyle Dubas was looking for some scoring and checking depth, a need further underscored by the loss of Travis Boyd and Jimmy Vesey to waivers. Alex Galchenyuk was brought into the NHL roster and has shown well as a secondary scorer; Dubas picked up Riley Nash for the playoffs as a depth forward; Nick Foligno was just acquired to round out the top-nine forward group with his versatility, and now he has addressed the netminding position.
With forwards reasonably settled, questions still remained in net and on defense. For goaltending, in particular, it’s due to the mystery surrounding Frederik Andersen and his status on LTIR, having not skated since March 19. Jack Campbell has also been dealing with a nagging injury this season and needs the odd off day, which leaves the Leafs with just Michael Hutchinson as the next-up goaltender with NHL experience.
For a team with such high playoff hopes and so many question marks in net health-wise, they couldn’t leave it up to chance by hoping Hutchinson wouldn’t need to start any games of significance.
Dubas paid up late Sunday night to ensure that won’t happen, trading a third-round pick in 2022 for pending-UFA David Rittich. Calgary retained half of his $2.75 million salary, and the pick is a year from now, which usually elevates the draft pick a round or so.
Most fans are familiar with Rittich this season as he has been lights out against the Leafs. He has a .941 save percentage against Toronto this season, but only a .904 save percentage overall, which is a quick way of showing he has generally been good against the Leafs but has struggled otherwise.
Before this season, Rittich has been a serviceable goalie in the league. He went 27-9-5 in the 2018-19 season while sporting a .911 save percentage. In the following season, with Flames’ net now his own, Rittich’s save percentage dipped a bit to .907, but he posted a decent enough 24-17-6 record.
After making headlines for a bat flip-like celebration following a shootout win, Rittich struggled the rest of the season. If I recall correctly, in a game against the Leafs this season, TSN play-by-play commentator Gord Miller noted that Rittich was working with a sports psychologist on channeling that emotion. Rittich is a fiery goalie who has been a decent netminder in his NHL career overall.
Of course, this move also comes with additional questions. Sheldon Keefe said recently that he has “no concern” that Frederik Andersen is done for the season just last week. If he returns, Andersen will rightfully be ahead of Rittich. A third-round pick is a big price to pay for a goalie that wouldn’t even dress if Andersen is really okay. And if Andersen is out only for the regular season but is expected back for playoffs, Hutchinson has generally shown he can handle a few games in the regular season — Hutchinson has a career .906 save percentage in 135 NHL games, while Rittich has a career .908 save percentage in 130 games.
It’s possible that the Leafs are open to keeping Rittich going forward, with the aim of possibly forming a cheap but reasonable goaltending duo alongside Jack Campbell for next season. In that case, they’d likely have no issue trading a third-round pick for a goalie they could keep beyond this year.
From the outside looking in, it’s a lot of guesswork at the moment. We don’t know really know what’s happening with Andersen. The one thing for certain is that Kyle Dubas is leaving nothing to chance this season. He is all in on an extended playoff run. And if there was ever a time to do it, it’s now.
David Rittich Scouting Report
from prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, via McKeen’s Yearbook
The departure of Mike Smith was supposed to make room for ‘Big Save Dave’ to rise to the occasion and take over in a major starting role for the Calgary Flames. Instead, he slowly but surely handed the starting role over to Cam Talbot, holding down the fort over the first part of the season while Talbot rediscovered his game and then ultimately conceding the starting role to his tandem partner thanks to some injury struggles over the back half of the season. With Markström on board as the team’s very clear number one, though, it’s likely that Rittich has a much lower shot at taking over that starting job; instead, he’ll almost certainly be put in a manageable role filling in as the number two and easing some of the workload for Markström. That may seem like a major downgrade for the Czech-born goaltender, but it’s a good step for him; given the injuries he’s dealt with in the past and some of the inconsistencies with his game, this gives him a chance to thrive without having to worry about taking over for the mercurial performers he’s had as his partners up until this point.
David Rittich StatisticsDate of Birth: Aug 19, 1992
Height: 6'3" / 191 cm
Place of Birth: Jihlava, CZE
Weight: 205 lbs / 93 kg
Nation: Czech Rep.
|2006-07||HC Dukla Jihlava U18||Czech U18 2||1||0.00||1.000||||
|2007-08||HC Dukla Jihlava U18||Czech U18||4||5.77||.830||||
|2008-09||HC Dukla Jihlava U18||Czech U18||7||1.58||.912||||
|HC Havirov U18||Czech U18||12||3.34||.893||||
|2009-10||HC Dukla Jihlava U18||Czech U18||29||2.59||.904|||||Playoffs||3||2.71||.918|
|HC Dukla Jihlava U20||Czech U20||5||4.95||.872||||
|2010-11||HC Dukla Jihlava U20||Czech U20||26||2.95||.919||||
|2011-12||HC Dukla Jihlava U20||Czech U20||43||2.31||.937|||||Playoffs||4||2.78||.930|
|HC Dukla Jihlava||Czech2||1||6.00||.793||||
|2012-13||HC Dukla Jihlava||Czech2||24||2.26||.921|||||Playoffs||2||2.67||.897|
|2013-14||HC Dukla Jihlava||Czech2||41||2.07||.927|||||Playoffs||9||2.11||.935|
|2014-15||BK Mlada Boleslav||Czech||23||3.15||.892||0||8-15-0|||||Playoffs||0||-||-|
|HC Dukla Jihlava||Czech2||7||1.52||.946|||||Playoffs||6||2.41||.924|
|2015-16||BK Mlada Boleslav||Czech||48||2.53||.918||5||26-22-0|||||Playoffs||10||3.18||.903||1||4-6-0|
|Czech Republic (all)||International||0||-||-||||
|Czech Republic (all)||International||5||1.99||.922||||