Calgary Flames Rumour: Looking For New Goaltending?


The Calgary Flames had a very successful 2014-15 season and much of that could be attributed to the success they had in goal. Jonas Hiller was signed to a two year $9.0 million contract last summer as an unrestricted free agent and teamed with Karri Ramo to lead the Flames to the postseason.

However, Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman had an interesting quote when speaking about the men who stand in the blue paint for the Calgary Flames. Friedman was on Sportsnet 960 in Calgary Friday morning and had the following to say.

“In your city, I’m not convinced that either Ramo or Hiller is 100 percent coming back next year – that maybe Calgary has a new goalie in net. Does Hiller have any trade value after he had a decent run in the playoffs before the end.” Friedman said.

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The question I have is, if Hiller and Ramo are out, who is going to play goal for the Calgary Flames next season?

Ramo is an unrestricted free agent, so it is entirely possible that he moves on, but Hiller played well last season and still has one year left on his $4.5 million contract. The Flames have young options coming into the organization, but it seems far too early to hand the keys over to rookie NHLers.

Joni Ortio was drafted in the 6th round of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Flames, but has only 15 games of NHL experience. He played most of last season with the Adirondack Flames, Calgary’s top affiliate in the American Hockey League, but isn’t ready to be a number one goalie in the NHL.

Jan 21, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Calgary Flames goalie Joni Ortio (37) blocks a shot against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Ortio posted a 21-16-3 record in the AHL with a 2.69 GAA and a .912 SV%. Solid numbers for sure, but he hardly gives me the confidence he can be the Flames starter on opening night next season. He played six games with Calgary and posted a 4-2-0 record with a  2.52 GAA and .908 SV%. Perhaps Ramo signs elsewhere and Ortio becomes the new backup, but there is no way the 24 year old Finnish net minder can be a starter yet.

Jon Gillies is coming off a fantastic NCAA career with Providence College, posting exceptional numbers in all three seasons. He will turn pro next season and be available to the Calgary Flames for the first time, but to throw him into the fire as the NHL’s number one guy right away would be asking for way too much out of a 21 year old rookie.

Gillies posted a career record of 60-34-13 over three years with Providence and never had a SV% below .930. He certainly looks like the star goaltender of the future for the Flames, but he will need some seasoning in the AHL before taking over the reins in Calgary full time.

Looking at the upcoming crop of free agent goaltenders, there are few that could reasonably replace Hiller if he were shipped out. San Jose Sharks Antti Niemi won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, but has seen his stats slip a bit in the past few years and would be a very slight upgrade at best.

May 8, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) and Calgary Flames goalie Karri Ramo (31) exchange words during the second period in game four of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Neuvirth is available but hasn’t been able to hold down a number one job in several stops over the past few seasons. He was beat out by Braden Holtby for the starting role with the Washington Capitals and played a 1-1A role with Jhonas Enroth in Buffalo before backing up Jaroslav Halak down the stretch with the New York Islanders.

The way I see it, Ramo will walk away as a free agent and Hiller will be the starter for one more year, with Ortio and Gillies battling for the backup role. Gillies will take over the starter’s duties as soon as the 2016-17 season, but will need next season to get used to the pro game and play frequently in the AHL before taking over Calgary’s crease.

Elliotte Friedman is one of the best insiders in the game of hockey and he is probably right about Karri Ramo. I just think he is a year too early by predicting Jonas Hiller could be leaving Calgary as well.

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