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Rittich a piece of Flames' evolving goaltending puzzle

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- The addition of David Rittich isn’t designed to answer any questions revolving around the Calgary Flames crease next season.

But the 23-year-old is very much a piece of the evolving puzzle.

“We call it a depth signing right now,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said. “As we look at our organization we’re trying to build depth at each position. David is a guy that our staff had identified. He’s a big guy … he’s got some athletic ability and there’s some rawness to his game. Our guys liked him as a guy to bring in and work with and see where it goes from there.”

The Flames signed Rittich to a one-year, two-way contract Monday.

He is set to come over to North America after playing the past two seasons with BK Mlada Boleslav of the Czech Extraliga. Rittich played 48 games for BK Mlada Boleslav in 2015-16, where he had a record of 26-22-0 with a 2.53 GAA and a .917 save percentage.

“I’m so excited,” Rittich said. “There are no words. It’s a big chance for me. I think I have the chance to play in the NHL. I feel it. It’s a dream for every goalie and every hockey player in the world. It’s a big chance for me to learn the style of play in North America.”

The 6-foot-4, 202-pound goaltender shows promise, according to Treliving.

“Once our guys identified and spend some time with him, we had (goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet) really dig in, watch a lot of video on him, spend some time with him, and we made a decision to move forward,” Treliving said. “We’re not giving up anything. At the same token, you always want to do your homework and due diligence. He’s a big guy who has some athletic ability and we’ll see where it goes.

“The way the contract is structured to us is it’s a low-risk move where we feel there’s some upside. Where it goes from there, we’ll wait and see and see how David develops.”

Goaltending is an area of need for the Flames, whose 257 goals against in 2015-16 was worst in the NHL. The Columbus Blue Jackets were second-last at 248.

Jonas Hiller, who was 9-11-1 with a 3.51 GAA and .879 save percentage in 26 games with Calgary last year, was slated to become an unrestricted free agent before signing a three-year deal with EHC Biel in the Swiss league.

Karri Ramo posted a 17-18-1 record with a 2.63 GAA and .909 save percentage in 37 games before missing the final quarter of the season because of a torn ACL. He will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Joni Ortio, who had a 7-9-5 with a 2.76 GAA and .902 save percentage in 22 appearances, remains unsigned and is a pending restricted free agent.

“We don’t want to put in place any false expectations … David’s not someone who will step into Calgary and solve any goaltending issues,” Treliving said.

“This is a guy that has made our reserve list deeper when you look at Jon Gillies, Mason McDonald, (Nick) Schneider … and now David is some depth in the organization at the position. He’ll come in and we’ll take a look at him at development camp, see where he is at training camp and go from there and work with him.”

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