BUFFALO -- The Calgary Flames hope they fixed one of their biggest problems by acquiring goalie Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues during the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center on Friday.
The Flames gave up their second-round draft pick (No. 35) and a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 draft to get Elliott, who becomes their No. 1 goalie. The conditional pick is dependent on if the Flames re-sign Elliott.
Elliott has one year remaining on his three-year contract, which carries a $2.5 million NHL salary-cap charge, according to generalfanager.com.
"We got better today, no question," Flames general manager Brad Treliving said.
The only place they could go was up.
Calgary had the worst save percentage in the NHL this season at .898 with goalies Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio. Elliott led the NHL (among goalies with 40 or more appearances) with a .930 save percentage, and the Blues were first with a .924 save percentage.
Elliott won 23 games with a 2.07 goals-against average.
"You see his game, sort of a late bloomer, maybe he doesn't get the fanfare of a lot of other guys, but when you really dig into the numbers this guy has been one of the best goaltenders in the League for the last number of years," Treliving said. "We thought that the contract and the acquisition cost was very reasonable. The other thing, too, is it's about the character of this person. You go and talk to teammates, coaches that have been around him, he is loved by people he plays with. We think that's a really important thing.
"He'll drive your practice. Anybody I talk to when I was doing my research said he will be the hardest worker you have in practice, he'll drive your practice and he will make your players better in practice because he doesn't like to let a puck in any time. We're happy to have him."
Treliving said Elliott's contract, with the lack of years remaining and the relatively low cap charge, was a key selling point to him as he tracked the goalie market.
Calgary was reportedly in discussions with the Tampa Bay Lightning to acquire Ben Bishop, who has one year remaining on his contract, which carries a $5.95 million cap charge. Bishop is likely seeking a long-term extension.
It's also possible Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard could be available in a trade. Fleury has three years left on his contract, which carries a $5.75 million cap charge. Howard is signed for three seasons at $5.291 million per season.
"I think we were linked to every goaltender from Timbits to senior men's league Sunday night; we might have talked to them all too," Treliving said. "As we looked around, this one really made sense for us. It made sense from a contractual standpoint and acquisition cost, but we really like the player. You start going out in the market and start talking about Brian Elliott, it's hard to find people who say a bad word about him."
As part of the trade, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong granted Treliving permission to talk to Elliott's representation about a contract extension. Treliving said it's a possibility he could get an extension done with Elliott, but he doesn't feel any pressure to do it immediately.
Treliving also didn't rule out the possibility the Flames could be in the market for another goalie.
Ortio could be considered the backup to Elliott now, but he can become a restricted free agent. He was 7-9-5 with a .907 save percentage and 2.76 GAA last season.
It's also possible Calgary views Elliott as a stop-gap until 21-year-old rookie goalie Jon Gillies is ready for the NHL. Gillies missed the final four and a half months of this season after having hip surgery in early December.
"The good news is we don't play for a few months yet," Treliving said. "We really like Joni Ortio. Obviously we like Brian. We've got some kids. The age groups start to fit in a little bit. But we'll get back at it [Saturday] and see if there's ways to continue to look at things."
From the Blues' perspective, Armstrong said he moved Elliott to Calgary because he felt the return of the No. 35 pick and the conditional third-round selection was fair for a 31-year-old goalie with one year remaining on his contract.
His opinion was based off of the Anaheim Ducks receiving the No. 30 pick in this year's draft and a second-round pick in 2017 from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Frederik Andersen, who is 26.
"I think we got a very good pick with it, and when you look at the value of what the Toronto trade was, I thought this is very similar with an older goaltender," Armstrong said. "We had a value on what was fair and we believe we got to that."