The goaltending situation has been nothing short of abysmal for the Calgary Flames this season. Fans everywhere are eager for Calgary to acquire a better goaltender in the off-season.
But the play of a young net-minder Joni Ortio might just convince the Calgary Flames brass to hold-off on any potential trades.
With a 2-7-2 record, a 2.94 GAA, and a 898 save percentage, you might be thinking that Ortio has been ‘Jonas Hiller’ bad this season.
But the numbers are not indicative of Ortio’s play.
Ortio hasn’t received any run-support in most of his starts, as the Calgary Flames have scored 2 goals or less 5 times in the last 11 games.
Couple that with the fact that the Flames have had poor defensive-zone coverage all year and you have the perfect storm for a misleading stat-line.
On most nights, Calgary Flames defenders get caught puck-watching more than the fans in the arena, leading to several tap-ins and backdoor passes.
The fact that Ortio has played strong for the Flames since his call-up, and has managed to give Calgary a chance to win in every game is important to note.
He really hasn’t let in any weak goals at all during his second stint with the Calgary Flames this season and has made some huge saves as well, which is a nice change of pace from Jonas Hiller who does the opposite on a consistent basis.
Still only 24 years old, Ortio still has a few more seasons until he really reaches his prime, as most goalies hit their stride in the 26-30 range.
While everyone can agree the Calgary Flames need an upgrade at the goaltending position, it is unfair to pin the Flames futility simply on the goaltending.
Ramo bounced back nicely and gave the Flames a consistent goalie who could make a save when he needed too until his season was ended by a torn ligament and meniscus damage.
While I like Ramo, he isn’t the guy for the Flames going forward.
I have no problem with them re-signing him in the off-season on a cheap short-term deal, as I believe he can play good hockey in a 1B or back-up role.
As for Ortio, I think he deserves a chance just like every other young player for the Flames. He doesn’t need any more seasoning in the minors, and his play is proving that he is ready for the NHL.
The Flames would be wise to go with Ortio for next season, especially since acquiring a goaltender who would fit into the Flames rebuilding plans would be too expensive.
Acquire players like Cam Ward and Jimmy Howard who are past their primes and too expensive isn’t the way to go.
Goaltenders like James Reimer are likely looking to cash-in during free-agency, and giving a long-term deal at around 5 million could really handicap the Calgary Flames like the deals they signed with Dennis Wideman and Mason Raymond.
The Flames will be tight under the cap next year with the imminent arrivals of new contracts for Johnny Hockey, and Sean Monahan, so signing another goalie in the off-season will be difficult.
Getting a young proven NHL-er like Frederik Andersen would be great, but the cost of acquiring him is likely too high.
Besides, the Calgary Flames have a great goalie prospect in Jon Gillies who has dominated college and played well in his first few games in the AHL before having season-ending hip-surgery.
While the Calgary Flames will eventually need a true number one goalie to make any noise in the playoffs, I believe the cost of getting one now will be too high.
They also have a lot of work to do before even considering being a cup-contender, and goaltending is just one of the issues on a long-list of things that plagued Calgary this year.
Right now Calgary isn’t a contender, and they will need a few more seasons to become consistently competitive.
Going with Ortio and Ramo for the short-term should provide the Flames with decent goaltending at a cheap price.
They both have played well this year, and should be good enough for now until Gillies develops or a better goalie falls into Calgary’s lap.
But if Joni Ortio continues to get better in the NHL, there may not be any need to look for another goalie.