The Calgary Flames made a move to shore up their goaltending situation for the rest of the season on Monday, when they claimed now-former Detroit Red Wings netminder Joey MacDonald off waivers. MacDonald had finally received medical clearance to play, and Detroit had placed him on waivers in hopes of being able to send him to their AHL affiliate.
The Flames need a reliable netminder, with starter Miikka Kiprusoff currently listed as day-to-day with an injury, and the team still not having much faith in prospect Leland Irving. It is a much better situation for MacDonald, who will have an immediate chance to play in Calgary. In Detroit, he faced a tough battle to see ice time unless injuries arose. At $550,000 for the season, he also comes at an attractive price for the Flames.
MacDonald got a chance to shine in Detroit last season after Jimmy Howard went down with an injury. He helped keep a league-record home win streak alive, and compiled an 8-5-1 record. In six NHL seasons with the Red Wings, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs, he has a 31-48-13 record with a career goals against average of 3.04. He was expected to have shot at the back-up job in Detroit this season, but his injury coupled with the team’s signing of Jonas Gustavsson put him in a very difficult situation. He had asked to be traded in the offseason, but the Red Wings were unable to make anything happen then.
In Kiprusoff’s absence, the Flames had turned to Irving, the team’s first round pick in the 2006 draft. In two starts, he got an overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and suffered a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. He went 1-3-3 in seven appearances for Calgary last season. The Flames had also signed Danny Taylor to an NHL contract to serve as Irving’s backup. Taylor, who had one NHL appearance with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2007-08 season, had a 13-9-1 record in the AHL this season with the Flames’ affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat.
In January the Flames traded former backup Henrik Karlsson to the Chicago Blackhawks, which freed up a contract, gave them a draft pick and presumably gave Irving the No. 2 job. While it is unlikely the Flames will have MacDonald active tonight against the Minnesota Wild, he could be ready to go Wednesday when the team hosts the Dallas Stars.
A fun note that should make for some fun in the Calgary locker room: MacDonald and Irving fought each other in the AHL last season, in a fight-filled game that saw Irving’s Abbotsford Heat handed MacDonald and the Grand Rapids Griffins a 5-1 loss.