Tabaracci returns to Capitals
Back-up net role opens for Moss or Giguere
Mike Board, Calgary Herald
While the National Hockey League is changing the look of the goal crease, the Calgary Flames are sweeping it clean.
By trading veteran goalie Rick Tabaracci to the Washington Capitals on Friday for future considerations and a draft pick to be determined later, the Flames will begin next season with an entirely different crew of goaltenders.
Dwayne Roloson, who shared much of the duties with Tabaracci last season, signed earlier this summer in Buffalo.
The Flames undisputed No. 1 goalie will be Ken Wregget, acquired from Pittsburgh in a trade that sent centre German Titov to the Penguins.
Who will play back-up is to be determined. The job will go to either Tyler Moss or Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the two young netminders responsible for carrying Saint John to the American Hockey League final last season.
Most are leaning to Moss, not only because he has a one-way contract for $500,000 US this season, but because the Flames don't want to rush the highly regarded Giguere.
Still, general manager Al Coates said Moss is not a lock.
"Training camp will determine who plays here," Coates said.
Flames brass identified goaltending as the club's major weakness last season.
Considering the Flames were 8-17 in games decided by one goal, there were at least 17 games where the goalies were at least the partial whipping boys.
"The coaches felt that the goaltending cost us. They felt that nobody stepped forward and took over," said one team source.
"At the conclusion of the season, we were determined to improve in that area," said Coates.
"Our two young guys need a chance. We want one or both of these guys to learn from Wregget."
The youngsters combined to post the lowest goals against average in the AHL last season. Giguere had the league's best save percentage while Moss was third.
"We had arguably the two best goalies in the American Hockey League last season and they were a major factor in getting us to the Calder Cup," Coates said.
Calgary has seen little of Moss and even less of Giguere.
Moss, 23, acquired from Tampa Bay for defenceman Jamie Huscroft in March, 1997, played 367 minutes with the Flames last season and posted a 2-3-1 record, a 3.27 goals against average and an .892 save percentage.
Giguere, who was acquired along with forward Andrew Cassels in the pre-training camp trade from Carolina in exchange for goalie Trevor Kidd and forward Gary Roberts, looked nervous in having a brutal camp last fall.
But Saint John coaches tagged him as the most improved player over the year, despite being hit hard by a dehydration problem that at one point put him in a hospital for intravenous drugs to replenish his body.
Some in the organization feel Giguere, 21 and a first-round draft pick in 1995, needs another year in the minors, playing 60 games.
His NHL experience is limited to just eight games with Hartford. He posted a 1-4-0 record and a 3.65 GAA.
This is the second go-round in Washington for Tabaracci. He spent parts of three seasons there before being acquired by the Flames. Calgary subsequently sent him to Tampa Bay for forward Aaron Gavey, then later re-acquired him from the Lightning for a fourth-round draft pick.
This is Tabby's sixth trade, but he expected this one, though the destination surprised him. He never requested a trade, but figured he would not be here come training camp because there wasn't room in the crease -- or on the balance sheet -- for two veteran goalies.
"This is a surprise in that I am going to Washington -- I don't know what it is about me being traded back to teams I've played for -- but we had talked and I expected something to happen,'' said the 29-year-old Tabaracci.
Although few within the organization will admit it, Tabaracci fell out of favor when he opted for stomach surgery to repair a nagging groin injury shortly after the Flames were eliminated from the playoff race.
Coach Brian Sutter was said to have been livid, feeling Tabaracci was bailing out on his teammates.
Tabaracci, a fan favorite, said he wasn't even sure if he would have been able to play the final week of the season had the team been in the playoff hunt. But he said he would have tried to play through the pain.
"That bothered me, to be second guessed," admitted Tabaracci, who had surgery for a serious hernia. "I went through the last part of the season where there were things that needed to be resolved and weren't. Things were different than when I was here three years ago. Organizations change."
And while he still will make Calgary home -- he is engaged to a Calgary woman -- he also looked on the bright side: He's moving to a team that reached the Stanley Cup final last season.
''In some senses this is good to move on because Calgary will be our home no matter where I am playing," he said.
Rick Tabaracci trade
- What's New: Flames trade goalie Rick Tabaracci to Washington for a draft pick and future considerations.
- What's Next: Trade clears way for one of Calgary's young goalies, Tyler Moss or Jean-Sebastien Giguere, to play as a back-up to Ken Wregget.
- What It Means: Flames are counting on Wregget, who has been mainly a back-up in recent season, to carry the ball in net as both of last season's regular goalies are gone.
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