Former Flame Joni Ortio Signs in Sweden
Last season the Calgary Flames were so worried about losing goaltender Joni Ortio one waivers, they chose to keep three goalies rather than risk sending him to the American Hockey League.
One year later, Ortio couldn’t find an NHL job so he signed Wednesday to play for Swedish side Skellefteå AIK.
Selected in the sixth round (171st overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Drafy by Calgary, Ortio appeared in 37 NHL games for the franchise across three seasons, posting a .901 save percentage and 2.66 goals-against average with two shut outs.
Once considered one of the stronger goaltending prospects in the NHL, Ortio struggled last season, going 7-9-5 with a .901 save percentage as the Flames failed to to find consistent performance from any of its three main puck stoppers – Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo and Ortio – leading to significant changes this offseason.
Veteran puck stopper Brian Elliott was acquired from St. Louis in late June before Calgary signed unrestricted free agent Chad Johnson to a one-year deal as part of their goaltending overhaul.
The Flames also boast a solid trio of prospects in Jon Gillies, Mason McDonald and Nick Schneider, which has likely contributed to the organisations decision to split with Ortio.
The Turku native became a restricted free agent this summer, but his status changed to unrestricted on July 1 after Calgary failed to submit a qualifying offer for the 25-year-old’s services.
It still comes as something of a surprise Ortio did not find another NHL club with whom to continue his career. The young Finn is widely believed to have the tools to succeed at the highest level, despite some struggles in Alberta, and would have been an interest ‘reclamation project’ for any club looking to bolster its goaltending depth ahead of the 2016-17 campaign.