In his end-of-year media availability, Flames GM Brad Treliving had this to say about his goalie situation, which currently features Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio:
“A wise man one told me there’s only one net.
“Carrying three goalies, you can do it for a short period of time, it doesn’t make sense. I think all three goalies have shown the ability to play.
“I thought we had good goaltending, but we need time to decompress, push away and think clearly about what we think is our best decision.”
The most obvious — and perhaps easiest — solution to slaying the three-headed goalie monster is letting Ramo walk when he becomes a UFA on July 1. While Ramo played well at times for Calgary this season and probably still has some good years left (he turns 29 this summer), the club has Hiller under contract through 2016 and, next season, can’t send Ortio down to the AHL without subjecting him to waivers.
Ortio, 24, is a pretty intriguing player. He went 4-2-0 with a 2.52 GAA and .908 save percentage in a brief six-game cameo with the Flames this year and, in the AHL, went 21-13-1 with a 2.69 GAA, .912 save percentage and four shutouts. He was named Adirondack’s MVP and could conceivably be Calgary’s goalie of the future.
Or maybe the present.
“No one wants to back up. Everyone wants to play,” Ortio said recently, per NHL.com. “That’s what I’ll be looking to do next September in camp, trying to steal that No. 1 job.”
Under normal circumstances, Ortio would likely be in line for a full season as the backup, to gain valuable experience and learn how to perform at the NHL level. But Flames head coach Bob Hartley doesn’t take a very normal approach when it comes to his goalies — he’ll play whomever gives him the best chance at winning, like this postseason; Hiller was great against Vancouver for most of Round 1, but it was Ramo that came on in relief in the deciding Game 6 and recorded the victory.
In Round 2, against Hiller’s former Ducks team, Hartley threw his support behind the Swiss netminder… only to tab Ramo as the starter just one game into the series.
In light of this, it’s easy to see why Ortio thinks he can be the No. 1 next year.
“The opportunity is going to be there,” Ortio explained. “It’s just up to me to grab it. No one is going to give it to me. I need to go take it myself.”