Kipper replacement? Flames to sign KHL goalie Ramo


The Calgary Flames are preparing for life after Miikka Kiprusoff.

On Wednesday, both the Calgary Herald and Sun reported the Flames have an agreement in place to sign KHL Avangard Omsk netminder Karri Ramo on July 5, the start of free agency.

Ramo, 26, was a Tampa Bay draftee in 2004 and appeared in 48 contests with the Bolts from 2007-09.

He signed with Omsk following the ’08-09 season and flourished into one of the KHL’s best netminders, earning multiple All-Star game nominations while posting goals-against averages of 2.11, 1.97. 1.96 and 2.00.

While in Russia, Ramo’s NHL rights were traded from Tampa Bay to Montreal, who in turn traded them to Calgary as part of last year’s Mike Cammalleri-Rene Bourque deal.

TrueHockey.com’s Andy Strickland reports Ramo’s deal will be of the multi-year variety.

If correct, it means that — assuming the 37-year-old Kiprusoff retires as expected — Ramo will be in a competition with Joey MacDonald, Finnish prospect Joni Ortio, WHL Edmonton’s Laurent Brossiot and Swiss star Reto Berra for minutes in the Calgary goal next season.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.