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Rämö, Flames Still Deciding on Goaltending Future

Rämö, Flames Still Deciding on Goaltending Future
Karri Ramo was injured Saturday, forcing the Flames to recall Brad Thiessen. (InGoal file photo by Clint Trahan)

Karri Rämö has made many adjustments over the last few years to become a more consistent goaltender. After a solid season in Calgary, he may look to hit the open market as a free agent. (InGoal file photo by Clint Trahan)

The Calgary Flames were the surprising team of the 2014-2015 season. Despite having poor puck possession numbers, they seemed to outperform their potential every single game – heavily relying on their goaltenders Jonas Hiller and Karri Rämö.

With Rämö set to explore unrestricted free agency, Hiller under contract next season, and youngster Joni Ortio keen on getting a chance to play regularly at the NHL level, Rämö appears to be the odd man out.

Statistically, here is how the three goaltenders stacked up against each other last season.

NameGPSV%Adjusted SV%High Danger SV%Goals Saved Above Average
Jonas Hiller52.918.933.853+4.45
Karri Rämö34.912.929.844-2.28
Joni Ortio6.908.899.857-0.99
*Note: Adjusted SV% and High Danger SV% is expressed as a 5-on-5 statistic.

Ortio only appeared in six games for the Flames, so it’s impossible to draw any conclusions from those numbers, but he looked more than ready for an NHL gig during his time up with the big club. His impressive minor league resume back up that claim.

Rämö never outplayed Hiller, aside from a handful of stretches throughout the season, but that was only because Hiller had an above-average year by his standards. Rämö played well enough to earn another job, but it’s looking like that may not come with the Calgary Flames.

During the Flames’ exit meetings, Rämö expressed that he would like to stay in Calgary, but he’s fully prepared to move on if he does not receive an offer that he likes.

“It’s been our home for two years now. Change is always different. At my stage of my career, I’m turning 29, so there’s still a few years left but do I want to change again? I don’t’ know. We’ll see.”

“It’s tempting for everybody and it’s my first time I might have to choose where I want to go. It’s something new for me in my career. We’ll see. But it’s a long ways to go until that. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Even after a strong season, Hiller may still end up in a platoon with a second goaltender. Ortio sees this situation as a chance to finally break into the NHL full time, but he isn’t shooting for the backup role. He wants to be the starter.

“No one wants to back up. Everyone wants to play. That’s what I’ll be looking to do next September in camp, trying to steal that No. 1 job.”

“It’s not just another season. It could, and hopefully is, my first full year in the NHL. I don’t think there’s any bigger motivation than that.”

The Flames can save a bit of money if they decide to go with a tandem of Hiller and Ortio next season, who have the benefit of already being under contract.

The team must decide in the next few months if Ortio is ready for a full time NHL shot, and if the answer is yes, Karri Rämö will have to look elsewhere for a job.

Ramo1

Rämö is still a goaltender with dynamic ability to make big saves. There is little doubt that teams will be looking to sign him if he reaches free agency.

The 28-year-old Rämö has taken steps to reel in his game a little bit, after receiving criticism for being too active in the crease.

Much like Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets, too much movement in the crease led to situations where it was impossible to get back into position. Both goaltenders worked on that, and have seen more consistent results..

“I think I’m a lot better goalie than I was last year and that’s always the goal, to become better. I think I succeeded in that. I feel that there’s a lot of work to do. As a goalie I feel like I can improve a lot. I’m not an old goalie yet. I’m not done. I think I can become a lot better.”

Rämö is still very much a rhythm-based goaltender, and can make some impressive saves, but those types of goaltenders tend to lose their effectiveness quickly as they get older.

He still has a lot left in the tank and will likely be signed, but teams should still be cautious about giving him a long term contract.

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.

2 Comments

  1. Joe

    Interesting article. No mention of Jon Gillies from Providence. What do you think the Flames have planned for him next season?

    • Greg Balloch

      They won’t rush him. You don’t normally see guys jump straight from college to the pros very often. He’s very much a piece of the puzzle, but probably won’t be a factor next season.